Law requires energy-saving pool pumps

Could your monthly maintenance bills be unnecessarily draining your bank account? Chances are the answer is yes and now is the time to dump old power-wasting models for newer ones.

The Florida Pool & Spa Energy Law and Code Requirements – what you, your business and your clients need to know in order to be compliant.

1. How did these requirements come into existence? In 2008, the Florida Legislature passed an all-encompassing energy bill, House bill 7135. Many state legislatures were aware of the California requirements aimed at decreasing the energy required for pools and spas, Florida was no different. Within the original law, provisions for energy efficiency of pool and spa components were included. FSPA worked with legislators to ensure these provisions were consistent with what nationally was becoming the norm and that there was an adequate amount of time allowed for compliance with these new requirements. In addition, FSPA put forth suggested edits to the original law, which were enacted in the 2010 legislative session (House bill 663) and 2011 legislative session (House bill 849). Some of these edits included pushing back the effective date, due to a delay in the Florida Building Code.

2. What does the Florida Energy Law require? House bill 849 removed the specific requirements for pools and spas that was originally laid out in law and replaced it with a requirement that pumps, motors, controls, heaters, and portable spas must instead meet the requirements in the Florida Energy & Conservation Code. Therefore, the specifics of what one must meet for pool & spa energy efficiency that were originally laid out in law are now found in the Florida Building Code. Chapter 4 of the 2010 Florida Energy & Conservation Code provides the specifics, which requires the following:

  1. Residential filtration pool pump motors cannot be split-phased, shaded-pole or capacitor start-induction run types.
  2. If the total horsepower (HP) of a residential filtration pool pump or filtration pool pump motor is one HP or larger than the pump and pump motor must have at least two speeds.
  3. Residential pool filter pump controls, for use with a multi-speed pump, must be capable of operating at a minimum of two speeds.
  4. Default pool filtration speed must be a speed that results in a flow rate that will NOT turnover the pool in less than six hours, and any high speed override must default back to the pool filtration speed in less than 24 hours. This allows solar pool heating systems to run at higher speeds during periods of usable heat gain.
  5. Thermal efficiency of gas and oil-fired heaters must not be less than78%.
  6. Heat pump heaters shall have a coefficient of performance at low temperature of not less than 4.0 (COP).
  7. Natural and LP gas-fired heaters shall not be equipped with constant burning pilots.
  8. All heaters shall have a readily accessible on-off switch that is mounted on the outside of the heater and that allows shutting off the heater without adjusting the thermostat setting.
  9. Portable spas must meet a certain standby power, based on the industry test protocol.

3. Does the law apply to existing pools and spas? Yes

  1. Manufacturers will most likely continue to make single speed pumps and pump motors for non-pool filtration purposes, therefore it is the installers’ responsibility to choose and install a compliant model whenever replacing a pool filter pump or pool filter pump motor. Building departments will have the ability to enforce these requirements on both new and existing residential pools. If a particular building department does not require a permit for a replacement pump or motor on an existing pool, this does not discount that the law and code requires the replacement pump/motor to comply. *Note: If repairing an existing pump or pump motor, an existing single speed pump or motor can still be used, but if it is being replaced, the new requirements kick in.
  2. If existing pool filter pump controls are replaced, controls capable of operating at a minimum two-speed are required to be installed, even for single speed pumps.
  3. Manufacturers only make pool and spa heaters that meet the efficiency requirements found not only in the Florida law and code, but more importantly, within federal requirements. Therefore, when installing a new or replacement heater, the contractor should only be able to install one that meets the minimum heater requirements laid out in the Florida law and code. However, readily accessible on/off switches are not federally required and a heater must also comply with these additional requirements.

**Note: Enforcement on existing pools will vary, this is where distributors and the industry as a whole must educate each other on the law and encourage compliance - the energy savings benefit the consumer.

4. What if the existing pump or pump motor is under warranty? If the pump/motor in question is still under warranty and the manufacturer provides the replacement then it is not being sold and replacing it with a single speed pump should be okay. This follows how CA has addressed the same issue. Extended warranties not provided by the manufacturer do not comply as the third party is purchasing the replacement pump/motor.

The Florida Pool & Spa Energy Law and Code Requirements in its entirety: