Upcoming Federal Standards for Circulator Pumps


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Update: The Federal Standards for Circulator Pumps was released May 2024. Learn more about the standards, including its requirements and effective date.

Federal standards for residential and commercial circulator pumps are anticipated for release by the U.S. Department of Energy. Please note: Although the final ruling is expected to occur in 2024, it will likely take effect two to four years after it is released.

What Circulator Pump Users Need to Know

The upcoming rule is expected to increase the minimum level of energy efficiency a circulator pump must achieve. To comply with the standard, manufacturers will need to switch over to circulators with electronically commutated motors (ECM) or equivalent performance.

ECMs use permanent magnets and electronics to spin the motor and are more efficient than permanent-split capacitor induction motors—an older technology still used in many circulator models. ECM circulators with integrated sensors enable precise flow control based on several factors, including temperature, pressure, and schedule to better meet the water flow needs for each application.

The upcoming federal standard presents a unique opportunity for manufacturers to modernize their entire circulator product lines to meet and exceed the new minimum efficiency level by adding advanced controls. Voluntary future planning and production ahead of the rule may also make it easier for manufacturers to address other opportunities to:
  • Educate wholesalers, distributors, facility managers, and other end users about the benefits of more advanced circulators.
  • Work with distributors to keep items in stock and readily available for customers.

Warren Fish, program manager at Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, says “Customer adoption of premium efficiency circulators is growing, and purchasers are experiencing benefits such as improved system longevity, and savings on electricity and water bills. Ideally, we want to see more above-standard models and manufacturers pushing beyond the minimum so they’re ready for future product cycles, and ready to meet customer expectations on connectivity, performance and efficiency.”

While using an ECM can reduce power consumption 30% to 50% compared to a traditional motor, adding advanced speed controls can lower it by as much as 75% compared to an older model.[1]

To best highlight the energy efficiency benefits of the products, the Hydraulic Institute designed the Circulator Pump Energy Rating Label. The label provides an at-a-glance synopsis of important features such as available controls, estimated energy savings, and the Circulator Energy Index, which compares the consumption power of the specific product to a traditional circulator. Read our BetterBricks blog to learn more about the significance of the Circulator Pump Energy Rating Label.

BetterBricks will provide more information about the federal standard as details are released.

Additional Resources

To learn more about the upcoming standards and how they are created, check out these valuable resources:

[1] Analysis of the Regional Technical Forum circulator Unit Energy Savings measures. https://rtf.nwcouncil.org/meas...

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