Pool Care Pool Maintenance

How Long Should I Run My Above-Ground Pool Pump?

A pool pump is the pool equipment that ensures the pool water is kept moving to allow the filter to clean it, mix the chemicals, and prevent algae growth. But how long should I run my above-ground pool pump remains the subject for most pool owners.

The best answer is once a day, 30 days in a month, and 365 days in a year. But this would mean you will be paying for extremely high bills end month. It doesn’t have to be if you take advantage of the time to run the above-ground pool pump, understand its purpose and take advantage of the type of model you’re using.

This post is mainly here to tell you how long you should run your above-ground pool pump, why run it, how much it will cost you to run it, and the best time of the day to run it. So, continue reading – it’ll help you understand how to utilize the system well and save on your bills.

How Long Should I Run My Pool Pump Each Day

If your pool water isn’t moving, it can quickly become a stagnant pond of dirty water, an excellent host to algae, or a swamp of all the other yucky stuff.

That’s why pool circulation is the most crucial factor in keeping your pool swimmable. And you know what, the poop pump is responsible for ensuring water circulation is a success.

An above-ground pool pump pulls the water through the skimmer and gives it enough force to pass through the filtration system and back to the pool.

When the pool pump pulls the water into the swimming pool water circulation system, it pushes it through the filter. Here all types of dirt, debris, and other contaminants get removed by the filter.

If you want to keep your pool water clean and crystal clear, it’s a must you run all the water through the filter once a day, approximately 8-hours. And that’s called the pool turnover rate.

How Do You Know Your Pool Turnover Rate?

Your swimming pool water circulation system turnover rate is directly affected by your swimming pool volume. That means, if you don’t already know your above-ground pool volume, usually given by the manufacturer in the owner’s manual, you’ll have to start by calculating it.

With the most above-ground pool being either rectangular or circular with uniform levels, it’s easy to use the simple volume formulas:

Calculating your above-ground pool volume:


Length x Width x Height of pool x 7.5 = Pool Volume (Gallons)


πr2 x height of your pool x 7.5 = Pool Volume (Gallons)
Where pi (constant) is 3.142 and r is the distance from one of the pools across the center divided by two.

If you have an irregular-shaped pool, you have to divide it into circles and rectangles, determine their volumes and add them up.

If you’re not up to all these calculations, you can use the pool calculator below:

Calculating the above-ground pool turnover rate:

Once you have the amount of water your above-ground pool holds, next is to figure out how fast the water will take to push the entire water through the filter. Understanding this gives you the time it takes the pool pump to process the whole pool water.

Check your pump’s manual for the pump’s rate, labeled Gallons per Hour (GPH) or Gallons per Minute (GPM).

If not available, you can such for the model on the manufacturer website – there you can find the equipment manual. There’s also the option of contacting the manufacturer.

Now that you have your above-ground pool pump flow rate GPH calculating your pool turnover becomes easy. The formula is:

Pool volume / Pump GPH = Pool Turnover Time

An example:

So, if your above-ground pool holds 12,000 gallons of water, and your pump’s GPH is 2,600, then you’d need to run your pump for 4.6 hours to perform a complete filtration of all the water in the pool.

If your above-ground pool holds 10,000 gallons of water and the above-ground pool pump flow rate (GPH) is 2500, you need to run for 10,000 Gallons / 2500 Gallons/Hour = 4 hours to complete an entire filtration cycle.

But does that answer ‘how long should I run my above-ground pool pump?’ though? Not exactly. The correct answer is it depends on how frequently you use your swimming pool and the pool capacity.

What’s the Best Time to Run Above-Ground Pool Pump?

This is a question I have come across multiple times. Besides knowing how long you need to run your above-ground pool, you should also know the best time to run it too.

Is it during the day? Or do you run it at night? According to experts, you should run your pool pump for at least 8 hours a day. Continuously? Not really. You can run it at a convenient time and intervals.

During Non-Peak Hours

One of the convenient times to run your above-ground pool is during non-peak hours. When is that?

Electricity charge rates you pay aren’t consistent during the day in all four seasons. The electricity provider determines the peak hours when most people use more power than average, straining the grid.

These peak hours vary depending on the location. If you live in warm climates, the peak hours could be late afternoon or early in the evening when most people return home from work and turn on their air conditioners.

You can call your electricity to provide and find out your local peak hours. Once you figure it out, schedule the best time to run your above-ground pump around it. Avoid them if you want to save on cost.

The best way to ensure you achieve this is to use a programmable pool timer. It will help you turn on your above-ground pump on and off at the right (non-peak) hours.

During the Night

It might seem obvious to run an above-ground pool pump during the day, especially when there are swimmers in it to keep the pool water clean. But there are other things you might want to consider too.

It’s an excellent thought to run the pool pump when swimming as it will help filter the water and keep it clean. But you can turn it off as soon as the swimmers leave the water.

As you might notice, the non-peak hours will mostly be at night. It’s pretty standard, especially for those that live in those warm climates where most people tend to run air conditioning units during the hot day.

The most convenient time to add pool chemicals is at night or at least after sunset, especially pool shock, which is affected by sunlight.

And after adding them, you’ll need to run the pool pump to distribute them all over the pool. If you don’t, you will have chemical hotspots, and some areas will still be unbalanced.

They need around 8-hours of water circulation or at least the pool turnover.

For Non-Consecutive Hours

Even though it’d be best to run your pool pump for at least 8-hours in a day to complete one turnover cycle, you don’t have to do it continuously.

Check your non-peak hours and work around them. You can decide to divide the 8-hours in two or thrice. You could even run two hours in the evening, non-peak hours, and six hours a late night.

All you need to make sure is you’ve covered the least 8-hours per day, 24 hours.

How Much Will It Cost to Run Above-Ground Pool Pump

It’s normal to get concerned about the cost you’ll incur when you run a pump for a single turn since you might need to run it twice or thrice its turnover during overuse and pool shocking.

The cost of running your above-ground pool pump depends on its size in horsepower, your pool’s turnover, and the electrical costs per hour that month.

Let’s estimate the cost you may incur in dollars on a typical day:

Step 1: Determine the wattage of your pump

Your above-ground pump might come with this information already determined by the manufacturer and recorded in the user manual.

If not, there will be a sheet on the pump back that gives electrical ratings of the pool pump. Among the information, you’ll find here are voltage and watts. You will need to find its wattage.

The values might be given in doubles, 115/230 for the voltage and 18.6/9.3 for amp rating. If your unit runs on a 115V outlet, use the higher amp 18.6A rating and vice versa.

Use this formula to find the wattage:

Watts = Voltage x Amperage

An example:

If your above-ground pump runs through 115 volts and its amperage is 18.6, then its wattage would be:

115 x 18.6 = 2139 watts

Step 2: Determine the Kilowatt-Hour

Electricity cost is calculated by the number of Kilowatts you consume per hour. That means you have to determine the kW of your consumer and convert it to total consumption in kWh by multiplying it with your pump turnover.

1kW = 1000 watts

So, divide your watts by 1000 to get kW. From out step 1 example:

The pump’s kW = 2139/1000 = 2.139 kW

Multiply this with the hours you need to run your above-ground pool. Assuming you want to run the pump twice with a single cycle being 4-hours, you will be running it for 8 hours a day. Multiply this with the kW you got above. For my case:

8 x 2.139 = 17.112 kWh per day

Step 3: Calculate the Cost per Day

Get your latest power bill and check the cost per kWh. Multiply it by your pump’s kWh per day.

From my example:

Assuming the current cost per kWh is $0.15/kWh, then the pump’s electricity consumption cost per day is:

17.112 kWh (consumed per day) x $0.15/kWh = $2.5668 per day and $2.5668 x 30 = $77.004 in a month.

Pump SizeCost Per Day
3/4-horsepower pump1.26 kWh
1-horsepower pump1.72 kWh
1.5-horsepower pump2.14 kWh
2-horsepower pump2.25 kWh
2.5-horsepower pump2.62 kWh
3-horsepower pump3.17 kWh
Table of electrical cost estimates in most states

Tips on How to Save on Electric Bills When Running Your Pool Pump

Apart from running your pool pump during non-peak hours, here are other ways you can save on electric bills when running it.

Use a variable speed above-ground pool pump

A variable speed pool pump comes with a design that allows it to change its RPM. It can either be a 2-speed pump or multi-speed pump.

A 2-speed pump changes its settings from a high-speed setting to a low-speed setting and vice versa. The variable-speed pump has a selection of speeds that changes on demand.

Variable speed pumps are high energy-savers compared to convection single-speed pumps. Using one can save you on electric bills. It might save you up to 90% on energy costs.

Additionally, from July 2021, variable speed pool pumps will be the only option for most swimming pools according to new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) minimum efficiency regulations. Some above-ground pools are on this list.

Get a programmable pool pump time

A programmable pool timer will help you run the pool at your convenient time. You don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to go and turn on the pool pump because it’s non-peak hours.

A programmable pool timer can do it for you. It will turn your above-ground pool on and off at the set times. Apart from making the turn on and off more convenient for you, it can help save on bills by helping you catch the non-peak hours early and also prevent overrunning the pool pump.

Pick the Ideal Pool Pump Size for Your Above-Ground Pool

It’s obvious a powerful pump would be a perfect option for any system but that isn’t always the case. It will depend on your pool size and the size of plumbing used.

If you’re using a less powerful pool pump for your large above-ground pool, it might take a lot of time to reach the turnover.

That will not only surpass the non-peak hours but would also mean the system will be using more electricity.

Compare the pump’s flow rate and your pool’s turnover rate using 8 hours as the time needed to pass all the water through the filter.

If still finding it difficult to figure out the right pool pump for your above ground pool, this post on how to choose a pool pump can help you.

Related Questions

Do you run a pool pump while swimming?

Yes. The pool pump is responsible for pushing pool water through the filter to clean off the debris and contaminants. While swimming, these contaminants will increase, and they will need to be filtered to protect the swimmers. So, you will need to run the pump while swimming.

Best time to run pool pump in summer

The best time is at night. In summer, most people run their air conditioners during the day, and some even set theirs at the highest setting. It’s during this time that the electricity provider decides to increase the cost per day. However, they reduce it during the night when people are not air conditioning their room

Final Verdict!

It would help if you ran your above-ground pool at least 8-hours a day, but you must match your pool’s turnover. Contact your local electricity to know the peak hours and non-peak hours in your area. Run your pool pump during these hours to save on electricity. Use a variable speed pump and a programmable pump timer to help you save more on electric bills.

About the author

Sharif Miah

Hi! I'm Sharif, the founder of Globo Pool® and I have been working in the pool & hot tub industry for the last few years. I love to share my experiences with people & hope you are enjoying my information and lessons!

Leave a Comment