The Best Self Priming Pond Pump 2023 (Reviews & Costs)

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The Best Self Priming Pond Pumps 2023 (Top Models Compared)

Self priming pond pumps are a great choice for easier priming compared to regular pumps, and can be a very good long-term investment for pond owners.  In this article we expand on how self-priming works and recommend the top self priming pond pumps currently on the market.

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Why Choose A Self-Priming External Pump?

a pond with many koi
External pumps are good choices for heavy stocked ponds, and a self-priming model makes maintenance much easier. Public domain.

An external pond pump is a great choice for ponds over 8,000 US gallons or garden ponds with heavy-stocked koi and goldfish. External pump models are generally much more energy efficient in comparison with their submerged counterparts, and also offer easier maintenance, cleaning, and much more in terms of raw horsepower.

A primary complaint from external pump owners, however, is the priming process to get the pump operational; a process that can be a huge headache depending on pump placement, pond design, and the type of external model you have. Almost all external pumps are driven using centrifugal force, which creates a pressure differential in the water which passes into the pump, with the end result being a pumping action. These types of external pumps are known as centrifugal pumps, and the most common non-priming and self-priming models still use this process to begin operation.

To make priming easier for a regular external pump, you may need to more carefully consider its placement or purchase additional devices to aid with priming (i.e., priming pot). Thankfully, there is an easier option in the form of the self-priming external pump, which overcomes the most common problems with priming and allows for a much smoother process. These kinds of pumps generally come with a priming pot installed as standard, and can prime with a mixture of both air and water to create a fluid ready for priming – helping prevent a pump from becoming “air-bound” and damaged. This makes them good choices for pond owners looking for a pump with all the features of an external model, just without the hassle of problematic priming.

Since this article only covers self-priming pumps, if you’re interested in purchasing a non-self-priming pump, you can view our separate articles on this here:

Self-Priming Pumps Vs Non Self-Priming Pumps

1) Non-Self-Priming Pumps

A standard centrifugal pond pump will use a method of priming called “flooded suction”, which requires the rotor impellers of the pump to be surrounded with pond water before operation can begin. Once the rotors are submerged in enough water an air differential is created which creates suction and pumping action. The problem with this classic method of priming external pumps is due to air getting into the main chamber, which can cause the pump to become “air-bound”. This essentially means air has become trapped around the rotors, which is then causing the pump to fail, as it cannot effectively push the trapped air and water out.

These external pumps are still the most commonly used external model, as they’re generally cheaper to purchase compared to newer self-priming pumps. To get around the issues with priming a “priming pot” is usually purchased and fitted separately and the pump would need to be installed below the water line for best results. These will help make priming a regular external pump a little easier, but it can still be quite a fiddly process and there is always a risk of internal damage if air happens to enter and become trapped in the main chamber.

Cheaper to purchase than self-priming
Can be more energy efficient
Wide range of flow rates & head heights
Very easy to clean and maintain
Much more difficult to prime
Priming Pot essential to prevent damage

2) Self-Priming External Pumps

Unlike regular flooded suction pumps, self-priming models overcome the issue of air being trapped by being able to operate on a mixture of both air and water without becoming air bound. Self-priming pumps do this by creating a special fluid from both air and water which allows pumping to begin, and then the air is expelled from the mixture during operation. These kinds of pumps usually come with a small water reservoir above the main chamber which enables the pump to remove air from the suction line by recirculating water during the priming cycle. After the first successful prime, the pump should be able to “self-prime” next time as it will retain water after the first start ready for the next.

Self-priming pumps also usually come with a priming pot built into the main structure of the pump, meaning no additional equipment is needed. This also makes priming even easier, as even a self-priming pump cannot function on just air alone and still requires the rotor impellers to be surrounded with water for priming. These types of pumps CANNOT be primed on just air (they do not create a vacuum), so water still needs to be in the main chamber or you will damage the pump!

Self-priming pond pumps are more expensive than their non-self-priming counterparts, but are good choices for pond owners who want the minimal hassle and a pump with more options for placement.

Can prime on mixture of air and water
Self-priming after first start (retains water)
Comes with priming pot built-in
More options for placement
Less chance to damage pump
More expensive & less efficient than regular external models

Q. Are self-priming pumps worth the extra cost?

Self-priming pumps are becoming more popular as the benefits from successfully priming not only reduce hassle but also can extend the lifespan of the pump. Since a pump becoming air bound is a serious problem, regular pumps would require the use of a priming pot and have less flexibility in terms of placement (i.e. below waterline). With a self-priming pump, you not only get the priming pot as standard, but due to the way the pump can mix air and water you have more flexibility for installation. Extra safety when it comes to priming means there is less maintenance and chance of damage, so the pump should last longer than a regular non-self-priming model.

With that said, self-priming pumps are still more expensive than regular types, so the choice would depend on your budget, knowledge of priming, and how long you intend to keep the pump. If money isn’t a concern and you want a pump that’s easier to handle and one that lasts longer, a self-priming model is a good choice.

Additional Features to Consider:

As with regular external pumps, there are some features to consider before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the correct model. Some of the more important aspects when selecting a self-priming pump are listed below:

1) Monthly Running Costs (Efficiency)

External pumps are more efficient than submerged pumps, but self-priming pumps are less energy efficient compared to non-self-priming pumps. This is because the process of mixing air and water to create a pump-able solution requires more work from the pump, so the design is slightly different from flooded suction designs. Taking this into account, you’ll want to make sure the self-priming pump you choose is within your monthly energy budget, and we’ve tried to make this easier by working out the efficiency for our top-rated models below. Even though they’re a bit more pricey to run, you’ll be getting an easier priming process and possible longer lifespan if properly maintained.

2) Flow Rate (GPH) & Head Height

Just like any pond pump, you’ll need to consider the reason you’re purchasing the pump and any flow rate vs head height requirements you have. For example, if you’re wanting to purchase a self-priming pump to replace your main filtration pump, you’ll have to purchase a pump that meets your pond size and fish stock. A 10,000 GPH pump would be required for a pond of 10,000 US gallons if you’re looking to circulate the water every hour, or a smaller one can be purchased if you have low fish stocks and a good filtration system in place.

As well as this you’ll need to consider any water features you want to run and the head height requirements needed to power the displays. These have been listed for convenience in our top choices but you can also find this information in the manufacturer’s product specifications if you’re looking at a different model

3) Voltage Rating (115 Volts or 230 Volts)

A final consideration is whether the external pump supports 115 voltage or 230 voltage lines. Almost all external pumps, self-priming and non-self-priming, are either 115v, 230v, or have options to support both. Most self-priming models will have an option to switch between either setting, making it much more convenient when choosing a pump. If the pump doesn’t support variable voltage options, you would need to make sure to select a pump that matches the voltage availability at the installation site. We’ve made sure to include the voltage support on each model below to make life a little easier!

Best Self Priming Pond Pump Reviews 2023 (updated)

Below are some of our top self-priming pond pump recommendations, all of which have been chosen due to their reliability, efficiency, and easy priming process for maximum peace of mind.

1) PerformancePro Artesian2 Self Priming Pump Review

PerformancePro Artesian2 1/2 HP 6780 GPH High Head External Pond Pump A2-1/2-HH
  • Exclusive Bonus Max Ponds Magnet Calendar
  • Money saving high efficiency pump and motor units
  • Self priming design allows for suction lift placement.

A great all-around self-priming pond pump with good energy efficiency, flow ratings, and a large priming basket. PerformancePro’s new Artesian2 range of pumps are good choices for someone in the market for an external pump with a large range of options and self-priming features.

The pumps come in a variety of flow rates, ranging from 3000 GPH to over 12,000 GPH+, so would be ideal for both medium or very large ponds or water gardens. The pumps are all self-priming, being able to function on a mix of both air and water, whilst also retaining water later within an integrated chamber for easier future priming. The models also benefit from a built-in leaf basket/priming pot as standard, which helps ensure an even smoother priming process and makes sure debris cannot get inside the pump and cause damage to the rotors.

Just like other external pumps, the motors are driven via centrifugal force and therefore cannot be submerged in water. Since these pumps are much easier to prime compared to regular flooded suction, you can more easily install and prime the pump at the waterline, although we still recommend a below-the-water line installation for best results.

Similar to their regular external pump series, the PerformancePro Artesian2 range has a great built-in fan cooling system to prevent overheating, and operation is very quiet for such powerful pumps. In fact, if you install these below the waterline you’ll likely not even hear a sound unless you open the container – which is great!

As stated, the pump series comes in a range of different flow rates and which all provide a range of water lift heights for fountains and waterfalls. These range from 12ft (3060 GPH model) up to a whopping 94ft (12,240 GPH model+), so would be suitable for smaller koi ponds or extremely large water features or lakes.

Included with the pump is a durable outer casing which should provide resistance to all weather conditions, although we still recommend a cover to increase protection. The pumps also feature dual voltage control for both 115v and 230v lines, so may be useful if you need both options or the less common 230v at the site of installation.

With that said, the PerformancePro Artesian2 range are a strong choice at a very affordable price range. They offer a good range of flow rates for all pond types, as well as great head heights for water features. Recommended for large ponds, koi ponds, and pond owners who want easy priming and an affordable pump.

Monthly pump running costs?

As an example, and assuming a charge of $0.10 per kWh (national average), the cost to run the 5600 GPH model monthly would be $23 per month, and the cost to run the higher-end 10560 GPH model would be $115 per month.  This would be running the pump 24 hours a day, 30 days a month.

Easy to prime (self-priming)
Affordable prices
Very quiet operation
Great range of flow rates and head heights
Powerful models more expensive to run
  • Type: External Centrifugal Pump
  • Priming method: Self-Priming
  • Voltage: 115v
  • Maximum Flow Rate: 3000-12000+ GPH
  • Maximum Head Height: 12ft – 94ft (depending on model)
  • Power Consumption: 135w and 3000w (depending on model)
  • Power Cord Length: 15 ft (4.6m)
  • Outlet/Input Size: Fits 2 inch (ID) tubing
  • Dimensions: Variable
  • Warranty: 3 Year (freshwater applications) 1 year (salt water applications)

2) Elite Pumps Pro 2 Self Priming Pump Review

Another great choice of self-priming external pumps is Elite Pumps Pro 2 range, which are some of the most energy-efficient self-primers on the market!

These pumps come in a range of different flow rates, ranging from the 4,000 GPH entry model to the powerful 9000+ GPH workhorses. The different range of flow rates provides good options for both smaller and very large ponds, and would suit any pond heavy stocked with koi or goldfish.

As with the other pumps here, the Elite Pumps Pro 2 series are all self priming models which work to mix both air and water into a special fluid for pumping. Priming is incredibly easy compared to regular external pumps, and the combined leaf basket makes sure no extra debris is able to damage the internals of the pump during operation. After the first successful prime (always the toughest), the pump enters a mode of “self-prime,” retaining water and making the next start-up much easier.

The priming pot itself is a similar size to the other pumps on offer here, but we found the casing a little sturdier and the top easier to open and manage when cleaning is needed. The overall design is highly water and weather resistant, although it should still be covered if installing above the water line to prevent gradual wear and tear.

One of the best features of these pumps are their fantastic energy efficiency ratings, meaning you’ll be saving extra money each month on your energy bill. They operate on an overall lower wattage than most other self-priming pumps, but can still retain an almost identical flow rate and head height. They also provide options for both 115v and 230v lines, making them a great pump range for someone looking for more savings and who needs more flexible voltage control.

The pumps are designed to be very quiet in operation and come with a lengthy 3-year limited warranty as standard. Even though these are already very reliable pumps and you shouldn’t have many issues if they’re correctly maintained, the fact you have a good warranty to fall back on is nice for peace of mind.

Overall, another great range of self-priming pumps which have some of the best energy efficiency ratings we’ve seen. Recommended for pond owners looking for maximum monthly savings and maximum peace of mind due to the lengthy warranty period. An ideal choice for large ponds, koi ponds, and medium-large water displays.

Monthly pump running costs?

Assuming a charge of $0.10 per kWh (national average), the cost to run the 4000 model pump monthly would be $14.7 per month, and the cost to run the 9600 model would be $45 per month.  This would be running the pump 24 hours a day, 30 days a month.

Easy to Prime (Self priming)
Very energy efficient
Support for dual voltage
3 year warranty
A bit expensive
  • Type: External Centrifugal Pump
  • Priming method: Self-Priming
  • Voltage: 115v/230v (dual voltage)
  • Maximum Flow Rate: 4000 GPH9500 GPH (depending on model)
  • Maximum Head Height: 19-27 ft (depending on model)
  • Power Consumption: 204w to 624w (depending on model)
  • Power Cord Length: 15 ft (4.6m)
  • Outlet/Input Size: Fits 2 inch (ID) tubing
  • Dimensions: 17″ x 10″ x 8″
  • Warranty: 3 Year

3) Sequence Self Priming Pond Pump Review

One of the most well-known and reputable external pump brands are Sequence’s Self Priming range of energy-efficient pumps. If you’ve been in the pond business for a long time you may have heard of Sequence before, and for good reason! Sequence pumps are some of the most reliable you can get, and even though they’re a little more pricey than other pumps, many pond owners end up switching due to the great performance and durability.

Just like the other self-priming pumps reviewed here, Sequence’s range are all centrifugal motor-driven units with the ability to combine water and air mixtures during priming. They include a small internal reservoir for holding re-circulating water which helps expel air during operation and allows easier priming during the next start-up.

The pumps come in a few different models, although they do not have as many flow rates in comparison to other brands. The main range of pumps include 3 models ranging from 6600 GPH, 6800 GPH, and 7800 GPH; with the 6600 model being designed for water displays with it’s larger head height potential. The maximum head heights are respectable for all 3 models, with the 6600 pump providing the best “bang for buck” in terms of cost and water lift height potential (22ft). Even though the head height values are less than those of some other self priming pumps, Sequence are able to make up for this with great energy efficiency and monthly savings. Each of the pumps runs at fairly low wattage, ranging from 380w to 505w, and are designed to be as efficient and reliable as possible.

A downside of these pumps is they’re very expensive compared to most other models on the market, but for the higher cost you’re getting a very reliable pump, backed by a lengthy 3 year warranty, and with many design choices intended to extend the pumps maximum working life-span. For example, the casing has been re-informed with glass filled polypropylene and the pumps feature dry run resistant mechanical seals , which will help prevent damage and the pumps becoming “air bound”. The hardware is also compromised of a strong stainless steel throughout, and everything is both weather and water-resistant.

In terms of extra features, a priming basket is included as standard and it’s a good size for trapping leaves and debris. The lid lifts open from the top and is also very easy to clean when needed. The pump comes with a default moulded 115v plug, but can be re-wired for 230v lines easily if needed.

To conclude, Sequence provide one of the most reliable and durable self-priming pumps on the market with a great 3 year warranty. However, they’re a little more pricey than other pumps and may not be suitable for smaller ponds or water features due to the more limited range of flow rate options. Recommended for large ponds, koi ponds, or pond owners who’re looking for something with maximum reliability for their water garden.

Monthly pump running costs?

Assuming a charge of $0.10 per kWh (national average), the cost to run the 6600 model monthly would be $27.4 per month, and the cost to run the 7800 model would be $36 per month.  This would be running the pump 24 hours a day, 30 days a month.

Easy to Prime (Self priming)
Very reliable and durable
Energy efficient design
3 year warranty
Very expensive
  • Type: External Centrifugal Pump
  • Priming method: Self-Priming
  • Voltage: 115v/230v (dual voltage)
  • Maximum Flow Rate: 68007800 GPH (depending on model)
  • Maximum Head Height: 19-24 ft (depending on model)
  • Power Consumption: 308w to 505 w (depending on model)
  • Power Cord Length: 8 ft (2.4m)
  • Outlet/Input Size: Fits 2 inch (ID) tubing
  • Dimensions: 17″ x 10″ x 8″
  • Warranty: 3 Year

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