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Swimming Pool Care help & information, questions answers

"How many hours should I run my pool pump?"
Ronald Parrs, Basic Author

A very popular question we get is, "how many hours do I run my pool pump each day?"

Intermatic 24 hour Time clocks for inground & aboveground poolsUsually, we tell pool owners that between 8 and 12 hours is a good rule of thumb. The next question is "when?"

Many people want to run their pool filter system only at night in order save on electricity during off-peak hours. That's not a bad idea, but it's not the best.

In an ideal world if cost wasn't an issue, running your pool pump 24 hours a day, 7 seven days each week from pool opening to closing, is the best way to care for your pool. Those folks who follow this routine have few if any water quality problems; instead they have a HUGE electric bill.

But there is a happy medium!

We may complain, most of western Europe has rates in the 20 cent to almost 40 cent per Kilowatt hour range!

Let me show you how you can save some money AND have good water quality. Below the energy cost map you'll find my recommendations for running your pool. This should save you about 30% of your pool pump electrical costs, as a minimum, on a monthly basis. By the way, this is the plan I use on my own pool.

The map below shows average RESIDENTIAL electrical rates by state as August 2010.

US electric rates, 2010

Image courtesy of

Here's my typical pool pump running routine on a normal summer. Our family lives in Connecticut with some of the highest electric rates in the country. We usually open the pool about May 1 and close it about Columbus Day (mid October).

Essentially, I mix peak and off-peak running times together so that the water is almost never truly at rest. It takes about 4 hours of the pump being OFF for the water to become "still". Read more about Circulation here. You need to run the pool while the sun is out. That's when there's the most activity; whether it's birds flying overhead dropping stuff into the pool or people swimming and playing. Plus you also need to have your chemicals circulating, and you do want to have warm, sun-heated water circulating down to the colder area thereby warming the entire pool.

By the way, no matter what, USE A TIMER - purchase one here. The Timer will pay for itself in very little time, usually the first month or so. With a timer, all I need to do is adjust my time clock trippers.

Ron's Pool Pump Running Plan:

Initial Opening: first 5 or 6 days, 24/7 (depending on what the water looks like at opening). The pool has been sitting still for over 6 months. I need to get my water balanced and starter chemicals circulating and winter biofilms disrupted.

Early & End of Season, minimal to no use: this would be from the end of that initial run until about mid-June and then again from late August to closing, when air and water temperatures are similar, mid to upper 70's, low 80's (degrees Fahrenheit).

    7 Days, pool pump operating 8 hours daily:
        Midnight to 3 am, ON.
        3 am to 10 am, OFF.
        10 am to 3 pm, ON.
        3 pm to Midnight, OFF.
        Pump runs for 5 hours during peak time, 3 hours off-peak. Pump is OFF for 14 hours.

Pool Season, normal to high use: roughly mid-June through the end of August (the beginning of the school year). Water temperatures are in the mid to upper 80's; air temperatures range from the mid 80's to low 90's.

    7 Days, pool pump operating 12 hours daily:
        Midnight to 4 am, ON.
        4 am to 8 am, OFF.
        8 am to 12 Noon, ON.
        12 noon to 4 pm, OFF
        4 pm to 8 pm, ON
        8 pm to Midnight, OFF.

        Pump runs for 8 hours during peak time, 4 hours off-peak. Pump is OFF for 12 hours.

That's how I maintain a crystal clear pool. When the water does cloud up, usually because of a very heavy rain storm (one or more inches of rain water) or big party (lots of people with food and drink), then I'll run the pump 24/7 until it clears; that's typically no longer than one day.

If you live in a part of the country where the pool stays open all year round, but it's too cold to use, I've got a few more timing tips for you. Click here for that information.

If you still need help, here's how to reach us:

Telephone (during store hours): Shelton  203-377-0100

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