UPDATED: Mar 11, 2020.
You know the importance of a pool filter to keep it clean from the constant contamination brought in by swimmers, the wind, and even articles used in and around the pool. Despite being a simple piece of equipment, not many people know how to buy the best pool filter because there isn’t enough credible info available. If that rings a bell, this guide can solve your problem.
Here are Our Top Picks for The Best Pool Filter:
- Best overall: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
- Best cartridge pool filter: Intex 28635EG Krystal
- Best pool sand filter: SUNCOO Pro 2450GPH Sand Filter Pump
- Best D.E pool filter: Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. Filter
- Best inground pool filter system: Hayward S270T Pro Series 27″
- Best above ground pool filter system: BCP Pro 2400GPH 13″
Choosing the Right Type of Filter for Your Pool
Depending on their construction, there are three main types of pool filters:
- D.E or Diatomaceous Earth Pool Filters
- Sand Pool Filters
- Cartridge Pool Filters
The million-dollar question is: which one of these is the best? Well, when it comes to pool filters, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. In other words, the best type of pool depends on your needs and your budget. However, if you wanted to know one key factor that determines the performance of your pool filter, it’ll be the size of the filter.
So, if you had just one takeaway from this guide, let it be: choose a filter at least one size bigger than you think you need. In other words, the biggest filter you can afford is almost always the best filter for your pool. All the other things such as brand, name, type, color come second.
Before we talk about each type of filters, let me throw in another very important question.
How to Find Out the Right Size?
This is where most people will drop the ball. They will either guess the right size or will simply consider the overall size of their pool and end up choosing the wrong filter size. Fortunately, here’s an ABC simple step-by-step formula to determine the correct size:
- Step 1. Calculate the total volume of the pool. For a square/rectangular pools, the formula is length x width x depth. For circular pools, it is radios x 3.14 (pi) x depth.
- Step 2. Calculate the capacity of pool in gallons. You can do so by multiplying pool volume (step 1) by 7.48 (which is the number of gallons in a cubic foot of volume)
- Step 3. Calculate the flow rate of water. You can buy cheap hardware sensors for this, but better yet, we have a formula, which costs nothing. Flow rate = capacity of the pool divided by turnover rate. Turnover rate is the total time required to circulate the body of water equal to the capacity of the pool.
- Step 4. Get your ideal filter, whose flow rate matches the flow rate of the pool. Remember, the actual flow rate of a filter can be derived by multiplying the filter rate by filter area.
- Step 5. Remember to choose at least one size bigger!
Diatomaceous Earth Filters
Ideal for: people who have enough budget to afford top of the line product
Average price: $800
Also, known as DE filters, these are considered to be the most reliable filters. They are made of a series of fabric covered filter elements or grids, which is coated with Diatomaceous Earth – a white powder found on earth. The magical capabilities of the powder let you filter out even the microscopic particles, ensuring pure, clean water in the pool.
Read More: Robotic Pool cleaner.
Pros of DE filters:
- Filters particles that are as small as 5 microns
- Easy to refresh as all you have to do is add DE powered through the skimmer
- High performance, long life
Cons of DE filters:
- The powder is considered to be a carcinogen and must be dealt with care
- Needs cleaning at least once a year depending on your use
Ideal for: people who want a hassle-free, budget-friendly filter
Average price: $250 (for above ground sand filters) and $600 (for in-ground sand filters)
These are the most commonly used and top rated pool filters. They are usually two to four feet in diameter and look like a big ball. Just as the name suggests, they contain sand, while there’s a drain pipe at the bottom of the tank. The water passes through the sand, leaving any impurities behind, and goes out of the filter through the pipe at the bottom.
Pros of sand filters:
- Very easy to maintain. Simply backwash and rinse.
- Sand is easy to acquire and lasts for many years
Cons of sand filters:
- Water wasted through backwash and rinsing when cleaning
- Filters only down to 20 microns
- Creates a lot of pressure
Ideal for: People who don’t want to spend time maintain the pool
Average price: $400 (for above ground sand filters) and $750 (for in-ground sand filters)
These are the energy- and cost-efficient filters that are pretty similar to the DE filters, however, there is no DE involved. Water enters the filter that has one or more cylindrical cartridges of pleated mesh material. All the impurities get stuck in the cartridges, while the water goes out the pipe at the bottom, into the pool.
Pros of cartridge filters
- Energy- and cost-efficient
- Helps save water
- Can filter down to 10 microns
Cons of cartridge filters
- Needs maintenance – you’ve to take the cartridges out and wash them
- Worn cartridges need to be replaced (not very frequently though)
Now you know the types of pool filters, let’s review some of the very best filters available on the market. Since there are two major categories of pool systems i.e. in-ground and above ground, we’ll talk about the best filters in each category.
Best Pool Filter on the Market
Best In-Ground Pool Filter Systems
Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
This sand filter pump from Intex has a pump flow rate of 1200 GPH. It comes equipped with 6 features which include backwash, filter, recirculates, rinses, drain and close the system. There is a digital timer provided which you can set as per your requirement.
The maximum time limit is 12 hours and the pump switches off as per the time you have set it to. Amongst the other accessories offered you receive two 1.5 inch connector hoses that make it easy for the water to be transported.
The pressure gauge gave monitors the amount of water being pumped to avoid any mishap. This makes the pump useful for any pool with a diameter of 16 feet or less.
- 6 features making it easy to use
- Digital timer allowing you to set a limit for it to switch off
- Pressure gauge helping in controlling the amount of water
- Suitable for any pool with 16 feet diameter or less
- The material used is flimsy
Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools with GFCI
If you’re on a budget, yet want a filter system that works as good as any other filter and needs little maintenance, consider the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump. It uses sand to filter water for your pool. In addition to filtering, the sole valve allows you to backwash, recirculate, drain, and even close the system – making it very simple and convenient to use.
The smart filter has a built-in 24-hour time which makes the overall experience of keeping your pool crystal clear hassle-free. The system is available in four different models, 1050 GPH, 1600 GPH, 2150 GPH, and 3000 GPH. The most powerful unit i.e. 3000 GPH can work for above ground pools as big as 16′ and above. The best thing about the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools with GFCI is that it requires zero maintenance – all you have to do is replace sand after five years.
- Extremely affordable with virtually no maintenance cost
- Very easy to use and maintain. Built-in timer further adds to ease of use.
- Available in four different sizes, you can find one that perfectly fits your bill
- Works pretty quickly, thanks to the higher flow rate
- One valve lets you do everything from filtering to backwashing to recirculating to draining to closing
- The only real concern with this filter is that it is only compatible with custom adapters, and the package doesn’t come with all adapters. You’ll need to buy a couple of adapters to set it up.
- Is not as durable as some of the other filter systems
- Can be a bit loud at times, but normally there’s nothing more than a little humming sound.
Hayward S270T Pro Series 27-Inch Pool Sand Filter for In-ground Pool
This is one of the most popular and most powerful in-ground pool filter systems, and there are many reasons for that. The weather-proof, corrosion-proof tank is made of a sturdy polymeric material and comes with a patented six-piston multi-port valve. The user-friendly lever action operation of the valve makes it very convenient to use. It works on the backwashing principal and ensures that water in your pool is crystal clear. The affordable price, ease of use, and low maintenance further sweeten the deal.
- Made of extremely durable weather- and corrosion-proof materials that can withstand any type of weather for a very long time to come
- Comes with a gigantic pressure drain (either sand or water) for speedy servicing
- Backwashing is very simple and ensures water in your pool is crystal clear
- The filter system is highly energy efficient and can save you decent money in terms of electric bills, thanks to the full-flow technology
- Very simple to operate and requires very little maintenance
- Despite being a high-quality system, it’s very reasonable priced
- Great pro-active customer service. In fact, their Hayward service has reached out to people who had a bad experience and posted their review online to help them sort out their issue. Kudos!
- The packing that the product comes in isn’t great. This isn’t a deal breaker, but when you invest a handsome amount of money, you can expect more than a large cardboard with the product freely jostling around in it.
- Comes with one a one-year warranty
- It’s rather heavy for its size, but this can actually be a benefit as it shows the durable build of the unit.
Intex 28635EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump
This pump is designed especially for above ground pools and it is suitable for 16-20 inch diameter pool models of Intex. The assembling process is rather simple and any novice can tackle and do it on his own.
The system flow rate for the pump is around 1180 GPH while the pump flow rate is 1500 GPH. There is again a timer function that you can set for anywhere between 2-12 hours. Along with there is an air release valve to remove the air that has been trapped inside the air filter.
You also get a filter cartridge that is easy to clean and can be replaced when required. The hydro aeration technology provided ensures that negative ions remain on top of the water surface thus making it feel fresh.
- Easy to install
- Suitable for above ground pools
- Timer function helps in pump getting shut off as per time set
- The filter cartridge is easy to clean and can be changed with a new one
- Faces problem with operations
SUNCOO Pro 2450GPH Sand Filter Pump
With a humongous capacity capable of storing 45 lbs. of sand the pump is suited to pools having 10,000 gallons of water. Made of high-quality material the pump is durable and going to last you for quite some time.
The pump has a copper motor with an electric cable that allows the pump to process 2450 gallons per hour. There are 4 separate functions that the owner can use here which comprise of rinse, waste, backwash, and filter.
The pump generates very little noise when it is operating and does not disturb you while it is in use. There is also a pressure gauge given that helps you find out the exact condition of the tank.
- Huge capacity
- Strong material used making it long-lasting
- Copper motor with an electric cable allows pumping large amounts of water
- 4 Separate functions that the owner can choose from
- Less noise produced hence no disturbance
- Pressure gauge to know the condition of the tank
- Only suitable for large pools
Xtreme power US 2640GPH 13″ Sand Filter
The sand filter pump has a 13-inch tank and can store up to 42 pounds of sand. This makes it particularly suitable for pools with a capacity of 10000 gallons and above. It has been designed such that very low noise is generated thus making it a convenient use for you.
The filter given provides you optimum filtration and efficient backwashing to ensure that the processes keep moving smoothly. Very easy to assemble the pump takes less than 5 minutes to be operational.
There is an integrated controller given which can be set with a timer so that the pump can shut off between 2-12 hours.
- 13-inch tank suitable for large pools
- Low noise created leading to no disturbance
- Easy to assemble
- A timer that can be set between 2-12 hours
- The thermal overload protector helps in keeping users safety in mind
- The material used is not very strong
Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater systems with E.C.O.
With a capacity of 7000 gallons, this pump has a titanium electrolyte cell which uses natural salt to create natural chlorine. As a result, soft and freshwater is created that is devoid of any harmful chemicals. The process of electrocatalytic oxidation splits the water molecules into oxidants that remove all the harmful bacteria that could be present in the water.
The design of the pump is compact and sleek and it is quite easy to operate. In fact, the control panel given is digital so you can easily control the settings and have an idea of how the pump is performing.
- Electrocatalytic oxidation kills the bacteria
- Electrolyte cell creates natural chlorine
- The quality of water is highly maintained
- Compact and sleek design
- Digital panel that is easy to understand and use
- The salt level remains high
Pentair 145201 Tagelus Top Mount Fiberglass Sand Pool Filter
Having Clearpro technology this top mount pool provides a clear and high quality of water at your disposal. With a pumping speed of 60 GPM, the filter can handle the requirements of an average-sized swimming pool with ease.
The design used is exclusive and quite sleek and makes the product a nice addition to your home. Using the filter is a breeze and installing it for operation is something that any person can handle. Measuring 24 inches in length and 41 ½ inches in height the product is a decent package at the price point it is available at.
- Clear pro-technology providing clean water
- Handles an average size swimming pool
- Sleek and patented design
- Easy usage and installation
- Can’t find fittings appropriate for it.
XtremepowerUS 16″ Above Inground Swimming Pool
Having a strong sand filter system the pump provides superior quality water. It maintains the sand height at such a level that maximum water can be processed for any sedimentation seen. Its impeller has been designed with brass inserts which makes it a sturdy purchase good enough to last you for some time.
Along with the pump, you receive the benefit of a 7-way multi-port filter which allows you to do a lot of things as per your choice. The pump is ideal for above ground pools and the capacity for it is around 10,000 gallons.
- Very strong sand filter system giving high-quality water
- Sturdy and durable
- 7 Way multi-port filter
- Suitable for large pools
- No proper instructions are given
Radiant Complete Sand Filter System
This is a complete package for your swimming pool as it includes pool pump, tank, 3 high-pressure hoses, stainless steel clamps, and back hoses. That ensures that the water of your pool would remain at a top-quality level.
The force with which this pump operates makes it a great choice for any kind of pool. Alongside this pump also has a see-through screen which allows you to see the progress of pumping. By ensuring great performance the pump remains an economical buy for the customers.
- A complete package having loads of features
- The high force generated can be used for any pool
- Good looking and sturdy
- See-through screen to see the extent of sedimentation
- Difficult to set up
Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus Fiberglass Reinforced Polypropylene Tank Cartridge Pool Filter 420 Square Feet
This innovative cartridge filter comes with an outsized filter area that lets it catch more dirt and impurities. The most notable thing about this filter system is that it has an effective filtration area of worth 420 square feet. On top of that, it has a flow rate of 150 gallons per minute. However, your system flow can be different depending on the exact plumbing size as well as other components of the overall system.
I had a pleasant experience with the filter; its speedy action turned one of my friends’ green and filthy looking puddle into a crystal-clear pool in no time. One thing to note is that it’s not corrosion-proof but corrosion resistant. But the unit seems very durable and reliable.
- This NSF listed filter comes with a massive filter area for enhanced capacity with 1.5inch, 100% drain clean out port.
- Comes with a high flow internal air relief as well as manual air relief valve.
- Instant action, thanks to an effective filtration area of about 420 square feet and a flow rate of 150 gallons per minute.
- Lasts a very long time thanks to the durable materials used
- Perfectly works on gigantic pools. The friend I mentioned above had a 30,000-gallon deep-end pool.
- Just like any other cartridge filter system, the Pentair 160301Clean & Clear Plus needs cleaning every year depending on your use
- The pool system is comparatively expensive, but it is well worth the price.
- Comes with just one-year-warranty
Hayward C5030 525 Square Foot SwimClear Cartridge Filter
Hayward might be better known for their sand filters, but they have pretty much changed their one-dimensional persona with the C5030 SwimClear. This is an innovative filter in cartridge technology with a cluster of 4 reusable elements for up to 425 square feet of immense capacity and extended filter cycles.
In addition to the quad-cluster cartridge elements that offer a great filter area, which can hold extra amount of dirt and impurities, several other features make it a great fit for any private pool. Firstly, it comes with a massive, tamper proof, clamp that holds the two –piece unit together, but also offers easy access to innards – which makes maintenance and repairs a breeze. Moreover, the CPVC union connection adds diversity to the unit, making it compatible with both 2-inch and 2.5-inch piping, offering extreme performance with the 2-inch full-flow internal piping.
- Offers very fast clean-out, thanks to the 2.5 inbuilt drain
- The quirky design lets you easily remove the cartridge elements
- The unit is not only sturdy but can withstand immense heat because of Noryl bulkhead
- Barely needs any maintenance, especially when compared with sand filters in the same class
- The unit helps you preserve a lot of water as there is not water going to waste because of backwashing. This makes it an ideal unit for areas where water is in short supply.
- With some units, people have complained an issue with the manifold. Though we personally had no such experience. But thanks to Hayward’s great customer service, you can get a replacement for it.
- Cartridges need to be serviced/replaced, though not too often.
- The price of the unit is on the higher side.
Hayward DE4820 Pro-Grid Vertical DE Pool Filter
Hayward DE4820 is a vertical grid filter, designed for in-ground pools as well as spas of all the different types and sizes. Just as the name suggests, it’s a DE based filter that pushed unfiltered water into filter elements and evenly distributes DE to grids.
The unit has the trademark Hayward design, with a heavy-duty, one-piece clamp that securely fits the tank top and the bottom together. This not only makes maintenance easy but also allows a convenient, quick access to innards, without requiring you to mess up the piping connections. The size and power of the Hayward DE4820 Pro-Grid Vertical DE Pool Filter make it an equally good choice for both commercial and residential use.
- Durable build ensures years of non-corrosive, hassle-free performance
- Available in a wide variety of sizes: 24, 36, 48,60,72-square foot, so you can choose one according to your pool size.
- Made of Perma Glass XL, the filter offers ultimate strength and durability
- In addition to combination pressure and cleaning cycle indicator gauge, the filter comes with a manual air relief and high-impact grid elements.
- Easy to install and even easier to use. There is just one lever to turn that lets you control all the settings. If you’ve used any of the older filters, you’ll love this one
- Great pro-active customer service. In fact, their Hayward service has reached out to people who had a bad experience and posted their review online to help them sort out their issue. Kudos!
- The filter doesn’t come with a user manual. Although it’s very easy to install and use, an instruction manual is always nice.
- The picture on most online stores show a slide However, that is not included with the filter. Not an issue with the product, but seems like a weird marketing ploy.
- The packing isn’t great for a product that cost a decent amount of money.
Best Choice Products Pro Above Ground Swimming Pool Pump System
This cutting-edge, well-designed pool filter system has been specifically designed to keep your pool pristine while requiring minimal maintenance and consuming negligible power. Yet, its unique design allows an efficient way to suck water from the skimmer into the filter tank. It features a six-position multiport valve for easy operation.
You’ll be amazed to see clean water in your pool like never before. The trick behind its great performance is that it has a high capacity sand bed which causes water to get exposed o more surface area. This results in all the impurities getting caught in the sand and pure water leaving the filter. The Best Choice Products Pro Above Ground Swimming Pool Pump System is simple to install, easy to use and offers great filtration performance, quick backwashing, and stretched filter cycles. It’s one of the very few UL listed, thermal protected, and CSA certified filter systems available on the market.
- Reasonably price filter system, yet very powerful as well as easy to use.
- Has a massive 175lbs sand capacity
- Comes with ETL listed mark, which means that your filter has been tested by an independent organization and meets the standards of applicable published safety.
- The unique one-piece design is non-corrosive as well as sturdy.
- Sand bed always stay level because of the internal filter design and water gets in contact with more surface area, ensuring cleaner water.
- The dirtier the sand gets, the better the filter works and catches more impurities, so the performance keeps going up.
- It’s not compatible with most pools out of the box so you might have buy fittings, 1 1/2 PVC pipe, PVC glue, Teflon tape, and other items to configure the
- It does waste some water, so might not be the best choice where water is in short supply.
- Although we may not call it fragile, yet it’s not as durable as compared to some other filters we have discussed above.
Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle Above-Ground/In-Ground Pools D.E. Filter
This is an amazing little filter system available in three different models i.e. EC40AC, EC50AC, and EC75A, each ideal for the different type of pool. The most notable feature of the Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. filter is that it has a bump handle that makes the flex-tubes clean themselves.
It’s a heavy-duty system that is extremely durable and offers corrosion-free performance for many years to come. The Hayward Perflex arguably offers the most comprehensive clean, as most other filters remove impurities down to five microns, while this little bad boy can catch down to one micron.
- Can catch dust, pollen, and other impurities as small as one micron
- Doesn’t waste any water or power – ideal for areas where water isn’t abundant
- Works very fast, your pool can turn from milky to crystal in as short as two hours
- Very quiet, you won’t even know if it’s running
- Reasonably price
- Small, lightweight and easy to use. Every once in a while, just hold the filter by the handle, and you can shake the DE powder to recoat the DE filter.
- The plastic body doesn’t seem very durable, although we haven’t seen any cracks or damage yet.
- The unit can get clogged, though not very often and is easy to fix, however, it is a nuisance.
- The title can be a little misleading, the unit not compatible with in-ground pools; only the pump can be used with above ground
We have explored the very best filters available for both in-ground and above ground pools. Choose the one that’s right for your pool, and you’ll spend less time cleaning and more time swimming. Enjoy!