Blog Home High Head vs. Medium Head Pumps

High Head vs. Medium Head Pumps

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Categories: Q&A Topics, Hot Tubs & Spas, Pumps, Above Ground Pools
 
When it comes to swimming pool pumps, there are so many options that it can be very overwhelming. One of the most confusing set of terms is “medium head” and “high head”. What in the world do these terms mean?!
 
Well, I think the easiest way to look at it is to think of it as pressure and flow. Think of a garden hose flowing at full capacity. Now think about what happens when you put your thumb over the end. The pressure increases, right? The flow (Gallons Per Minute – GPM) reduces but the pressure increases. When you remove your thumb, the pressure goes down and the flow (GPM) increases once again.
 
In technical terms, “head” is the height a pump will push water up into the air. A high head pump produces more pressure and will push water up further. Whereas a medium head pump has more flow, but less pressure and therefore will not push the water as high. Again, think of the garden hose pointing straight up. Which picture below will push water higher into the air
 
Medium Head
High Head

Swimming pool pumps are made with different configurations to meet the demands of different applications. Sometimes you need pressure and sometimes you need flow. Above ground pools typically have the pump right next to the pool and there is very little plumbing and resistance. So, there is less pressure needed and therefore a medium head pump is sufficient. 
 
The same goes for a waterfall pump. A pump that is designated to only operate a waterfall has very little resistance, if any, and requires only sufficient flow. Pressure is not a concern so the best pump would be a medium head.
 
On the other hand, an in-ground pool that has more plumbing and equipment, that is usually much further from the pool, requires high head/pressure to navigate the water adequately. A spa pump is also an application that requires high head/pressure to push the water through all of the plumbing, equipment and still provide enough pressure to push the jets as designed.
 
 
Hopefully the difference between high head and medium head pool pumps is a it easier to understand now. But, should you still have question and find yourself uncertain of which pump is best for you, please feel free to call Pool Supply Unlimited at 888-836-6025
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