What pump do I need for my spa pool? (Types of pumps, costs and more)

Learn about the different types pf spa pumps available for spa pools and spa baths and discover which one is best for your spa.

What pump do I need for my spa pool HERO

There are a myriad of pumps that are available and it can be hard to know which is the right one for your spa or swim spa. In some cases, spas have more than one pump too.

In this article, we’ll discuss all the different types of pumps that may be present in your spa and how to choose the right one if you need to replace it.

We cover:

And more!

What does a circulation pump do in a spa?

The circulation pump in a spa operates continuously to move your water slowly throughout the spa system. Constantly moving the water in your spa enables your water to be consistently heated, filtered thoroughly by your filtration system and evenly sanitised and treated.

How many pumps does a spa pool have?

Most modern spa pools will have 2 spa pumps - a circulation pump and a boost pump

To find how many circulation pumps your spa has, consult your manufacturer or review your owner’s manual. You may also be able to view the number of pumps in your spa by removing the side panel of your spa and looking inside.

What is the difference between a circulation pump and a boost pump?

A circulation pump is designed to keep water moving (circulating) continuously throughout your spa. It operates at a low RPM and is generally reasonably quiet.

A booster pump increases the flow rate of water in your spa. They are particularly used in larger spa systems like swim spas, where the water has a longer distance to travel. The booster pump in your spa usually larger than the circulation pump.

What is the difference between a circulation pump and a blower?

The circulation pump in your spa moves (circulates) the water around your entire spa body and through your plumbing system. A circulation pump has a ‘wet end’ which enables water to flow through it.

The blower is connected to the air jets in your spa and ‘blows’ air out the air jets that are usually located at the bottom of the seats in your spa. This creates the sensation of bubbles in your spa water and create a light soft-tissue massage. The blower cannot have water going through it. If your blower is not functioning properly, read our article on how to troubleshoot the most common pump issues.

A circulation pump is generally physically larger than a blower.

SpaNet® Circulation Pump (blue) and Blower (black)

Back to top

How much does a spa pump cost?

As a general rule, spa pumps will range in price from around $400 up to $1200. There are a number of variables that will affect the price of the pump including the power output of the pump - this is measured in horsepower or kilowatts.

Whether the pump is a single speed or two speed pump will also affect the price. Any other features and technology on the pump such as a built in heater will also influence the price you will expect to pay. In many cases, a pump for a spa bath will have a heater built in.

Can I use a pool pump in my spa?

No, most pool pumps won’t be suitable for your spa for a variety of reasons. Firstly, dedicated spa pumps are rated for warm water up to 40’C, whereas pool pumps are often only rated for lower water temperatures.

Secondly, dedicated spa pumps will come pre-wired with an appropriate connection so you can connect it directly to your spa controller. In many cases this is an AMP plug. This enables the pump to be controlled directly from the touchpad in your spa.

What is the best spa pump?

One of the best and most reliable spa pumps that is used in all Vortex™® and Fisher® spas at the time of writing this (2021) is the SpaNet XS-3C circulation pump.

This pump generates an impressive 0.35HP power output, while only drawing 250W of power. It provides a flow rate of up to 170 litres per minute which is sufficient for many portable spas and swim spas.

What do the specifications mean on a spa pump?

Your spa pump will have a number of specifications listed on the pump plate. Refer to the guide below for a detailed description of what each of these mean.

Power output - measured in horsepower (hp) or Watts (W)

This measurement refers to the amount of power the pump can produce to circulate the water in your spa. A higher power output means the pump can circulate a larger amount of water, or circulate more quickly.

RPM (Revolutions per minute)

This refers to the speed at which the pump operates -a higher RPM will move a larger amount of water.

Input Power draw (Current) Measured in Amps (A)

This refers to how much electric current the pump uses to operate.

Flow Rate - Litres per minute (L/min)

The number provides a measure of how much water can be moved by the pump in a one minute period.

AMP Plug

Many spa pumps including the SpaNet™ range use a special type of plug called an AMP plug. This carries power to the pump from the spa controller and enables the pump to be controlled directly by the touchpad on your spa.

Back to top

What is the difference between a single speed and a 2 speed spa pump?

A single speed pump just operates at one speed and in many cases, is much lower cost than a two speed pump.

A two speed pump can be used for both a circulation pump and a booster pump. The low speed setting is usually used for circulation mode, while the high speed setting is used for boost mode.

A two speed pump will have two columns on the specification plate on the side of the pump, showing the low speed and high speed power output (wattage or horsepower), input current (amps).

What is the difference between a spa pool pump and spa bath pump?

As a general rule, spa bath pumps have much smaller capacity for circulating water, while a spa pool pump can circulate a larger amount of water.

Although modern spa pool pumps circulate water only, some older types of spa pool pumps had a small heating element built in to maintain your water temperature. As water circulates through the pump and passes over the heating element, it warms up the water.

Spa bath pumps will not have a heating element in it as the water in your spa bath comes directly from the hot tap in your home and is already heated.

Spa bath pumps are only designed to push a smaller volume of water - between 10-12 jets. Spa pool pumps are designed to feed 50-70 jets.

What is a union on a spa pump?

The union on your spa pump is the connection between the plumbing pipe in your spa and your pump. These usually have a thread that enables them to be tightened up to provide a strong seal.

The measurement on the union refers to the thread on the pipe it will fit.

If you need to replace your union, here are a couple of details you will need to provide;

How many threads does your union have?

What is the diameter of the pipe it connects to? Many people contact us about replacing just the o-rings in the union assembly, but it is better to replace the whole union assembly to ensure you get a good seal that won’t fail anytime soon.

Spa Pump Union and O-Ring assembly

Spa Pump Union and O-Ring assembly

What are the cable connections on a spa pump?

On common spa pumps, there will be a power connection. In many cases for pumps up to 10A in current rating, this will be a three prong C38 plug or an AMP plug which powers and controls the pump directly from your spa controller.

Bigger pumps with a higher current rating (15A or higher) may need to be hardwired to a higher current circuit. All electrical work should be carried out by a licensed electrician.

Spa Store does not take responsibility for any damage or injury occurring from the incorrect installation of a spa pump.

Older pumps which don’t have a digital data connection, use an air switch to turn them on and off.

What is an air switch / air button on a spa pump?

Some spa pumps are controlled by an air switch to turn them off and on. In many cases, this is older technology, but there are still a few of them around on spas.

An air switch operates from an air button in your spa. When the button is pressed, it depresses an air bellows under the switch which sends a pulse of air down the air line to the pump which trips a momentary switch to turn the pump on or off.

What is a pump check valve in a spa (non-return valve, gate valve)

A check valve in a spa pump is a one way valve that encourages water flow to only go one direction. It will close if water tries to go back in.

What is a wet end and dry end on a spa pump?

On a pump there is a dry end where the power comes through and the motor runs. This drives a shaft which goes through a mechanical seal to the wet end.

The mechanical seal is made up of a series of ceramic and some bearings which seals the shaft between the dry end of the pump and the wet end of the shaft.

What is the impeller in a spa pump?

The impeller in your spa pump is a small round device that fits onto your pump drive shaft and spins around to pump water through the wet end of the pump. The vanes on the side of the impeller move the water through the pump.

SpaNet Circulation Pump Impeller

SpaNet Circulation Pump Impeller

What size pump for an 8 person spa?

An 8 person spa will generally need a standard circulation pump around 250W (0.35 horsepower) and at least one additional booster pump around 1500W (2 horsepower) or larger.

Five Star Trust Pilot Rating

We are proud that Spa World customers have given us a Five Star Trustpilot rating.