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Thread: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

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    Question Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    Hi all,

    I bought a home in January. It's my third home, but my first pool. I've been browsing the forum for the past two months, trying to learn about "pool stuff" in between taking care of the many other things that need tended to around the new home. I hired a pool guy in order to give me some breathing room while I took care of the higher priority things, but I am getting close to trying my own hand at maintaining the pool.

    I wasn't quite ready to post a question, and actually just registered to get all my ducks on a row, but then I realized I'll have less access than pre-registration until I post a question. So....

    One of the things I have not decided on yet is what type of cleaner I want to use. The pool is about ten years old, is roughly rectangular (16' x 35') and is about 22K gallons. There is a spa next to it that spills over into the pool. The surface is plaster. The pool currently has a 2HP main pump with a dedicated suction line, and the current sweep is a Zodiac Barracuda G4. There is also a 3/4HP pump that runs two sheer arc waterfalls.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think my first "upgrade" should be replacing the old single-speed pump with a variable speed. Even if I don't believe the advertised 90% energy savings, I'm sure the savings are significant and the sooner I install it, the sooner it pays for itself.

    I also need to address the cleaner (are cleaner and sweep the same thing?). The current cleaner is old and brittle, and a piece breaks off every week. In addition, it won't leave the deep end of the pool. The hose is long enough, but the hose also appears old, and I think there is a fitting missing where it connects to the vacuum line (the hose just plugs right into the side of the pool).

    I've been researching robotic vs. suction-side cleaners because I figured those were my only two options, but as I type this, I'm wondering if my dedicated suction line couldn't be converted to a pressure-side line with a booster pump? Not that I needed a third option to consider....

    Robotic cleaners seem to be pretty polarizing, either people hate them or love them, so it's been hard for me to feel comfortable going that route. I'm thinking about purchasing a new Zodiac Barracuda G3. The G4 is discontinued, but the earlier model is still in production and seems to get pretty good reviews.

    Finally getting to the question, which is, am I defeating the cost-savings benefits of the VS pump if I use a suction-side cleaner and have to run it at the higher speeds in order to get the cleaner to operate?

    I intend to use the BBB method, and just received my Taylor 2006 test kit today, so I'll definitely have more questions in the future.

    Thanks in advance for any and all assistance!

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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    => Robotic cleaners can work well if not overloaded with leaves and stuff. That means they are fine in the Southwest, OK in screened pools in s. Florida, but not so good here in Chattanooga or in Louisiana, where pools tend to be surrounded by vegetation and churned by thunderstorms.

    => All reliable pressure side cleaners I know of, require a dedicated pool return line. If you've got that, you're good to go. If not, not so much. Without seeing your piping, I can't be sure, but normally it should be possible to convert a dedicated suction line to a dedicated pressure line.

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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    Putting a booster on a VS seems like a waste of money and energy to me. Why not just get a pressure cleaner that doesn't require a booster? ThePoolCleaner is a very good choice and requires less flow rate to operate.

    But both a suction side and pressure side cleaner will require higher RPM from the VS to operate. So a robotic could save money if that is your objective. But there are downsides as well. Most manufactures recommend removing the cleaner immediately after the cycle is over which is a hassle. I am a bit lazy and like to leave the (suction side) cleaner in the pool and have it run every day.

    However, one thing to consider is that a VS rarely has a lower lifetime cost than a two speed. Only in the most expensive $/kwh states (CA) does it make sense. The up front cost of the two speed is lower and it gets close to the VS in energy savings so it takes the VS much longer to pay for itself. In many cases, longer than the life of the pump.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolDoc View Post
    => All reliable pressure side cleaners I know of, require a dedicated pool return line. If you've got that, you're good to go. If not, not so much. Without seeing your piping, I can't be sure, but normally it should be possible to convert a dedicated suction line to a dedicated pressure line.
    I think it would be possible to turn my dedicated suction line to a dedicated pressure line, but I'll post some pictures soon to make sure I'm understanding the plumbing correctly. There are actually a couple points I have questions on concerning a particular valve and how it is effecting the cleaner and the skimmer.

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    Putting a booster on a VS seems like a waste of money and energy to me. Why not just get a pressure cleaner that doesn't require a booster? ThePoolCleaner is a very good choice and requires less flow rate to operate.

    But both a suction side and pressure side cleaner will require higher RPM from the VS to operate. So a robotic could save money if that is your objective. But there are downsides as well. Most manufactures recommend removing the cleaner immediately after the cycle is over which is a hassle. I am a bit lazy and like to leave the (suction side) cleaner in the pool and have it run every day.
    I'm definitely not stuck on converting to a pressure side cleaner, the comment was more of an "aha" moment where I realized I could go that route if I wanted. Prior to that moment, I had limited my research to robotic and suction-side, simply because I didn't have a dedicated pressure side line. I don't care which type of cleaner I get (robotic, suction, or pressure), I just want three things: (1) The cheapest up front cost, (2) The cheapest cost to run, and (3) The most effective cleaning possible. If only that were possible. I'm just trying to decide where I want to make the compromises, and energy savings is a primary objective.

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    However, one thing to consider is that a VS rarely has a lower lifetime cost than a two speed. Only in the most expensive $/kwh states (CA) does it make sense. The up front cost of the two speed is lower and it gets close to the VS in energy savings so it takes the VS much longer to pay for itself. In many cases, longer than the life of the pump.
    Well unfortunately for me, California is where I am at. I think a VS pump will pay for itself in less than a year, especially considering I plan on doing the install myself, and will be offsetting the purchase with the $100 rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric (which is not available for 2-speed pumps) and about a $220 credit from my home warranty company (their cash equivalent of having the motor replaced in the current single-speed pump). That means I'll be out of pocket $600-$700 for a Pentair Intelliflo VS or a Pentair Intelliflo XF.

    My main question was whether or not I defeat the benefit of a VS pump (being able to run at lower RPMs) by using a suction-side cleaner, which has to be run a higher RPMs. I noticed you said the pressure-side cleaner by Poolvernuegen operates at a lower flow rate than others, do you know if this is also the case for their suction-side versions? If not, are there other effective suction-sides that I would likely be able to run at lower RPMs?

    Thanks to both of you for your replies and the information.

    - Eric
    IG 22,500 gal plaster pool w/spill-over spa (circa 2004); 2HP WhisperFlo w/Pentair Cartridge Filter; 3/4HP pump for two waterfalls; Poolvernuegen; Brentwood, CA

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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    I've had robotic cleaners for years. My first was a Dolphin Dynamic which worked for 2 years before giving my trouble. At the time, their service was not good and they eventually replaced it with a new one, which never worked well. They actually told me to attach lead weights to help improve suction...uncovered lead bars in water likely to be corrosive! I gather they've since changed their US distributor.

    I replaced it with a Blue Diamond which after 3 years had some troubles, but THEIR service was amazing and I had it back in less than a week! It's been working fine ever since for at least 5 years now, maybe 6.

    While I am in the North East, I don't have any overhanging trees, just a line of evergreens my neighbor planted as a boundary between us on the western side of the property--so the wind DOES blow stuff into the pool, and our spring pollen in NJ is VERY heavy (hence all the allergies in this area--if you DON'T have hay fever, you're the exception!).
    Carl

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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    Quote Originally Posted by ehuesman View Post
    My main question was whether or not I defeat the benefit of a VS pump (being able to run at lower RPMs) by using a suction-side cleaner, which has to be run a higher RPMs. I noticed you said the pressure-side cleaner by Poolvernuegen operates at a lower flow rate than others, do you know if this is also the case for their suction-side versions? If not, are there other effective suction-sides that I would likely be able to run at lower RPMs?
    Yes the suction side does as well. That is the one I have. But even so, you will need higher RPM to run that than without it. Especially, if you want the skimmers to work at the same time. I am not saying it isn't worth it but you just have to take that into consideration.

    Also, keep in mind that both Pentair and Hayward have shorter warranties now for DIYers. You get the longer warranty only when you have a professional install the pump.
    Mark
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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    Also, keep in mind that both Pentair and Hayward have shorter warranties now for DIYers. You get the longer warranty only when you have a professional install the pump.
    Makes sense, but I wasn't aware of that change. Do you know what the change is? (years vs. years)

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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    You can read about it here:

    http://www.poolspanews.com/retailing...ranties_o.aspx

    But if you read the comments, it seems like some store owners are offering different incentives.

    Here is the thread where it was originally discussed:

    http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...-changes/page2
    Mark
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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    Thanks, Mark.

    Interesting thread . . . though there seemed to be a lack of clarity. I'll need to check with my local wholesaler and directly with Pentair and Hayward. I have no idea how they could determine a "certified dealer". I'm going to guess that the distinction will boil down to, "Was it sold through channel, or direct?"

    That said, I would guess that warranty claims for DIY work would be 2-3x higher than from tradesmen, with many of the claims resulting either from installation errors or confusion about the product itself. I've seen this both in pool work, and years ago, in plumbing work. That increase of cost would, by itself, justify the action purely on the grounds of business cost.

    But in practice, if the product is installed promptly, there's not going to be big difference between 60 day claims, and 1 year claims. The problem is going to be with the phrase "installed promptly". If a homeowner dawdles about installing, he may lose the warranty while the product is still the box.

    I think the solution here is going to the same as with the Summer Escapes pools (sold by Walmart / Sams Club): install PROMPTLY so it can be returned to the vendor if necessary!

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    Default Re: Suction side cleaner with variable speed pump?

    This could be an ugly trap for someone who buys end of the season inventory intending to install in the spring.

    Personally, I would love to DIY less and hire professionals more often but I've been disappointed by so many "pros" that if I can, I'll do it myself.

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