Best Pool Filters for Above & In Ground Pools 2021

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Best Pool Filters

Swimming pools are prone to contamination. Dirty water in your pool is bad for swimmers – they might get sick, infected, or skin allergies, but that’s what pool cleaners and filters are for.

A swimming pool filter comes in three different filtration systems, all of which remove a significant amount of dirt from the pool water.

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the best pool filters on the market. We’ve researched a lot and picked excellent products for your pool filter shopping convenience.

What are the Different Types of Filters for Your Pool?

Getting the right pool filter types makes a world of difference.

There are three types of pool filters: sand, cartridge, and diatomaceous earth (D.E.). Which one best suits your pool? Which is the easiest to maintain? We’re here to help you answer these questions.

Sand filter

sand pool filter

Sand filters use particular graded sand as the filter material. The water goes into the tank via the diffuser. When water passes through sand, dirt gets stuck there so that the water returns free of particulates.

Sand filters can remove debris of up to 40 microns (a micron is a millionth of a meter). Anything smaller than that won’t be filtered out. Note that the filter area needs to be replaced every three to five years to ensure optimal performance.

Cartridge filter

cartridge filter

The cartridge filter doesn’t filter debris as fine as D.E. can, but it’s almost on the same level as sand. It utilizes a paper-type cartridge as the filter’s media.

Over the years, it’s not an easy-maintenance item, but manufacturers have created models that need cleaning only once or twice a year.

Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filter

hayward-de-filter

As the name implies, this one uses diatomaceous earth as the filter material. Said material makes up one layer of filter powder that covers the filtering plastic grids. The DE has these flexible grids and a unique type of fabric.

D.E. is much finer than sand. As the water passes through the grids, particles as small as 5 to 8 microns get filtered out. However, the maintenance is quite a nuisance. Every time you vacuum, you need to add D.E. powder; then backwash it afterward. The grid replacement can also be expensive.

Top-rated Pool Filters for In-ground and Above-ground Swimming Pools 2020

An important consideration when choosing a pool filter is what type of pool (in-ground or above-ground) you have. We chose six items for the in-ground pool. If you want quality filters for your above-ground pool, we’ve picked four top-of-the-line products for you.

Product NameFiltration TypePool Type
Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter (S270T)Sand filterIn-ground
Pentair Triton II Side Mount Fiberglass Sand Filter (TR60)Sand filterIn-ground
Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge (C1200)Cartridge filterIn-ground
Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear (160301)Cartridge filterIn-ground
Hayward ProGrid (DE2420)D.E. filterIn-ground
Pentair FNS Plus Fiberglass (180009)D.E. filterIn-ground
Sand Master Soft Sided Above Ground Pool Sand Filter (71225)Sand filterAbove-ground
XtremepowerUS 4,500GPH (75131)Sand filterAbove-ground
Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump (28651EG)Sand filterAbove-ground
Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System (28675EG)Sand filterAbove-ground

1. Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter

Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter

One of the most popular and durable filters for in-ground pools is the Hayward ProSeries. It measures 27 inches and comes with a 1.5-inch Vari-Flo valve. The valve ranges up to seven positions to ensure optimal flow at a low-pressure drop. The ProSeries is available in side-mount and top-mount sand filter versions.

The filtration system of Hayward ProSeries uses a well-engineered umbrella-fold self-cleaning lateral system. It enhances efficient water flow for a stable backwashing and long-time function. As a result, it brings back crystal clear water to your pool.

The corrosion-proof construction of Hayward ProSeries is rust-resistant, weather-proof polymeric material that ensures longevity. It comes with an easy-to-use lever action operation on the valve for convenience. Another great feature is the full-flow technology that allows this product to work in shorter periods for energy efficiency.

Pros
  • Made of weather- and corrosion-resistant durable materials
  • Saves energy and electricity because of the full-flow technology
  • Energy efficient backwashing mechanism for clean water
Cons
  • Quite heavy, but this weight may be a sign of the sturdy built of the unit.

2. Pentair Triton II Side Mount Fiberglass Sand Filter

Pentair Triton II Side Mount Fiberglass Sand Filter,png

This innovative sand pool filtering machine comes with secure closure for easy inspection, pressure gauge for convenient reading, and swing-away diffuser for quick access to the sand and the interior.

The Pentair Triton II has a fiberglass-reinforced tank with an ultra-violet surface coating. These materials provide the unit unsurpassed strength and resilience against rust, weather, and time. Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene tanks are super durable, too.

The Pentair Triton II area coverage is 3.14 square feet, with a flow rate of 63 GPM. It can operate for eight hours with 30,240 gallons turn-over capacity, 10 hours with 37,800 gallons, or 12 hours for 45,360 gallons.

The internal mechanism ensures the sand bed level provides stable water flow as the debris is filtered down. As a result, the pool water has a crystal clear quality.

Pros
  • Easy-to-read pressure gauge display
  • Easy to inspect with durable closure, swing-away diffuser, and threaded internal parts
  • High turn-over capacity for various times
  • Heavy-duty construction prevents damage under harsh conditions
Cons
  • The air relief valve not included in the package
  • Small pool coverage of 3.14 square feet

3. Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge

Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter

Hayward SwimClear has one of the most robust builts and best flow of water. The one-piece, injection-molded base, and body are glass-secured copolymer, Perma-Glas XL, for added reliability and strength.

This Hayward SwimClear head looks attractive, and you can also rotate the pressure gauge to position easily and allow for manual air release. It has a locking knob for fastening efficiently without the need for bolts or clamps. The Hayward SwimClear has an outsized area of up to 120-square foot coverage or a maximum pool size of 57,600 gallons.

The SwimClear is one of Hayward’s cutting-edge technologies for advanced pool equipment. If you’re on a budget, the good news is that the Hayward SwimClear is inexpensive, and you save gallons of water and electric bills per year because it doesn’t require backwashing.

For an affordable pool filter, Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge surely performs so well.

Pros
  • Hand-operated locking knob – no need for additional tools
  • Meticulously engineered extruded base and an extra-large cartridge media
  • Cost-effective
  • It also comes with a pressure indicator gauge
Cons
  • Installation requires some planning and time.

4. Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Cartridge Filter

Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus Fiberglass

The Pentair 160301 is probably the most expensive product on the list, and the price is justifiable since it has a lot to offer. It’s intended for residential pools since it has a large filtration area of 420 square feet, and the pump system has a flow rate of up to 150 GPM.

It’s 22-inch long, 45-inch high, and 22.5-inch wide. The body is a polypropylene tank cartridge pool filter, and black bulkhead unions integrated with tension-control clamp for manual control of hydraulic flow.

The cartridge filtration system of the Pentair 160301 functions with non-stop maximum internal air relief and manual air relief valve. It can even turn cloudy water into crystal-clear quality. It has guaranteed superior quality and strength being listed under NSF.

Pros
  • Ideal for massive pools because of its large pool filtration capacity
  • The continuous high flow of air release
  • Comes in a complete package with valve and pump
  • Full package despite being pricey
Cons
  • Very heavy which might cause damage to the unit upon delivery

5. Hayward ProGrid

Hayward ProGrid D.E. Pool Filter

Like any other Hayward model, the Hayward ProGrid is a durable glass-reinforced copolymer material that lasts for many years. It comes in various sizes, including 24, 36, 48, 60, and 72-square feet. It features a simple filtration mechanism that delivers reliable, low-maintenance operation.

As a vertical grid D.E. filter, the grid elements work efficiently for up-flow filtration and top-down backwashing. The Hayward ProGrid has multiple ports and a slide valve option. The manual air relief valve has a high capacity, and you can easily operate it with just a quarter-turn of the lever.

The one-piece flange clamp tightens the tank’s top and bottom portions for security and provides easy access to the interior. As a high-capacity D.E. filter, the Hayward ProGrid meets the demands of poor quality pool water and harsh environmental condition.

Pros
  • Easy-to-operate manual valve in just a small turn of the lever
  • The durable quality of glass-reinforced copolymer
  • Can be used for in-ground spas too
  • Grid elements designed for top-down backwashing and up-flow filtration
  • Heavy-duty gauge and long-lasting retention spring
Cons
  • Valve for backwashing sold separately.

6. Pentair FNS Plus Fiberglass

Pentair 180009 FNS Plus

One of the most potent and versatile D.E. pool filters is the Pentair FNS Plus Fiberglass. The most important thing about Pentair FNS is that it also operates with a pool heater for spa or bather applications. It has a maximum operating water temperature of 104 ºF or 40 ºC.

The fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene tank is a chemically resistant material that gives the unit strength and consistency. The top-mount design allows for an easy, one-at-a-time grid servicing. You don’t need tools for removing the gridlock because a hand-removable single nut secures it. In the internal part, the design ensures efficient filtration and backwashing.

The Pentair FNS has an active filtration area of 60 square feet and a flow rate of 120 GPM, while the maximum operating pressure is 50 PSI. It’s easy to clean because of the 1.5-inch drain that supports convenient cleanout.

Pros
  • Operates at a maximum water temperature of up to 40 ºCelsius
  • Heavy-duty fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene tank
  • Efficient filtration area of 60 square feet with a 120 GPM flow rate
  • The gridlock is easy to remove
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Quite heavy (but it’s because of the high-quality fiberglass)

7. Sand Master Soft Sided Above Ground Pool Sand Filter System

Sand Master Soft Sided Above Ground Pool

Sand Master Soft Sided Above Ground Pool Sand Filter System is one of the most economical and convenient filters for above-ground pools. As a top-mount sand pool filter, it features a four-position multiport valve in a 12-inch tank. The tank is rust-proof, so it withstands water damage and other harsh elements. It holds 42 pounds of sand that effectively filters out debris from 9,600-gallon above-ground pool water.

Moreover, the flow rate of the Sand Master is 20 GPM powered by a 115-volt pump. It is easy to install because it comes with a package of two hoses, a pump to the filter hose, and all the necessary fittings.

Sand Master is worthy of your investment because it comes with a one-year warranty.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient powered by 115 V suitable for small-sized, soft-sided above-ground pools
  • Easy to install because it comes with complete installation tools
  • Comes in an inexpensive price backed by a one-year warranty
  • Convenient because of its multiport valve
Cons
  • May not have enough filtration efficiency for larger above-ground pools.

8. XtremepowerUS 4500GPH

XtremepowerUS 4,500GPH

True to its name, the XtremepowerUS 4500 GPH is one of the most powerful in this list and the industry. It comes in a large 16-inch tank with a 42-pound sand capacity and can filter pools up to 15,000 gallons. It has a reliable, consistent filtration and backwashing mechanism that allow the water to flow through the maximum sand surface.

You can install XtremepowerUS in less than five minutes. The four-way valve and 3-prong plug with electric cables are portable and allow for a quick start and smooth operation.

The mechanism is optimized to function with low noise to make your environment cozy. Another outstanding feature is the timer for convenient service.

Pros
  • Large filtration capacity of up to 15,000 gallons
  • A robust flow rate of 4,5000 GPH
  • Comfortable, energy-efficient low-noise operation
  • Perfect for all brands of large inflatable above-ground pools
Cons
  • Poor after-sales support

9. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump (28651EG)

Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump

Intex Krystal is a powerful pump for above ground pools. The 16-inch tank generates a flow rate of 3,000 gallons per hour. This system flow is sufficient for any size of the pool – particularly the Intex brand. It can filter out even the smallest dirt particle and algae.

The timer allows you to pre-set the unit for up to 24 hours to operate automatically and shut-off for hassle-free maintenance. Moreover, it features a control valve with six functions: filter, backwash, rinses, recirculate, close, and drain.

Aside from being effective, this all-natural sand pool filter by Intex is cost-effective as it does not require any replacement filter cartridges. Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump can even last two years longer than the other Krystal Clear cartridge filter pump units.

Pros
  • Available in six sizes and four configurations
  • Safe shut-off with integrated fault circuit interrupter
  • Easy to install with 1.5-inch connector hoses
  • Meets the UL/CSA standards
  • Easy to operate and maintain with its six-function valve
Cons
  • The operation makes a moderate amount of noise but by no means distracting.

10. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System (28675EG)

Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump

We have featured the Intex Krystal Clear 28651EG, but here’s an Intex alternative for homeowners who want to convert their pool into saltwater: the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Pool Filter Pump & Saltwater System. As opposed to chlorine, saltwater gives a better feel of the water.

It is probably the most affordable filter pump, and the saltwater system as the package comes with a tank, pump, chlorine generator, filter, hoses, and a two-year warranty.

The filtration coverage is 2,600 to 8,500 gallons with a pump flow rate of 1,500 GPH. Similar to the Intex model above, it also runs on 110 – 120 V with an auto-shutoff feature. In one system, it combines electrocatalytic oxidation and water filtration mechanisms. Hence, it is a low-cost maintenance system to sustain a clean and safe above-ground pool.

Pros
  • Low-cost two-in-one filtration and saltwater system
  • Auto-shutoff function for safety and energy-efficiency
  • Hassle-free 24-hour operation
  • Comes in a complete package with a two-year warranty
Cons
  • The pump flow rate of 1,500GPH is less potent than that of Intex Krystal Clear 28651EG.

Buying Guide & Frequently Asked Questions

We’ll answer the burning questions you want answered.

Which type of filter is the best?

pool-filter

Each type of pool filter has advantages and disadvantages. For clarity, sand pool filters use all-natural sand particles that trap debris as small as 20 to 40 microns. It is cost-effective because it does not need any filter sand replacement. However, since it relies on backwashing, which requires quite a huge amount of water, it might increase your water bill.

On the other hand, cartridge filters produce clearer pool water as can trap 10-20 micron particles. It uses replaceable paper or fabric-like cartridges that usually have a larger surface area to filter out debris. For larger pools, this filter can do the cleaning task, although it is hard to maintain. The cartridge filter doesn’t require backwashing, but it needs cartridge replacements every two to three years.

Lastly, diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filters give you the clearest pool water possible. It has the most complex filtration mechanism, therefore, the most effective. As the water passes through the D.E., particles of three to five microns in size, including algae, are removed. The DE can last up to 10 years, but the replacement is quite expensive.

When buying a pool filter, consider the type of pool you have, its size and volume, and your budget. You can even opt for a robotic pool vacuum for the ultimate ease of use.

What kind of filter do I need for a saltwater pool?

The three major types of pool filters can correctly work in tandem with the saltwater pool system. The sand filter has the poorest filtration, but it’s preferred for many residential pools because it is low in cost and maintenance — newer models of sand filter function well with saltwater systems.

The cartridge pool filter is relatively inexpensive and provides a mild level of filtration. It has a simple mechanism, and it’s easy to operate and maintain. Lastly, D.E. filters trap down the tiniest particles resulting in the most “polished” pool water quality. It has a complicated operation and maintenance, which is its drawback.

How to Choose the Right Pool Filter Size

Choosing the right size of filters and the pool pump is essential; otherwise, the filter media will break down quickly and lose its effectiveness. The worst-case scenario is a high-pressure build-up that will lead to an explosion!

1. Determine the size and volume of your pool.

The correct size of the filter depends on how much water your swimming pool holds. There are four shapes of pools: round, rectangular, oval, and kidney. For your convenience, here are the useful formulas to determine the capacity or volume of your pool:

a. Pool depth

shallowest-and-deepest-end

For the depth, regardless of the pool, find the deepest part, the shallowest, and the average. Average depth = (deep end depth + shallow end depth) / 2

b. For rectangular pools:

rectangular-pool

Multiply the length by the width of the pool to get the surface area. Next, multiply the surface area by the depth of the pool to determine the volume.

c. For round pools:

round-pool

Determine the surface area by multiplying pi (approx. 3.14) by the square of the radius. Then multiply the result by the pool depth to get its volume.

d. For oval pools:

oval-pool

Measure the longest radius, the shortest radius, and the average depth. You can use this formula as a guide: volume = pi x longest radius x shortest radius x average depth.

e. For kidney-shaped pools:

kidney-pool

Find the width and the length. Next, determine the approximate volume using the formula: volume = width x length x average depth.

2. Convert cubic feet into gallons.

After calculating the volume of your pool in cubic feet, convert it into gallons by multiplying it by 7.48.

3. Calculate the gallons per minute (GPM).

Lastly, determine the gallons per minute that you want your pump to manage. You can do it by dividing your pool’s volume by eight. With the resulting number, you should now know the appropriate pump and filter for your pool. We recommend choosing a pool filter that’s overclocked for your pool size if you want the job done faster.

The Final Verdict

We have reviewed the best pool filters for both in-ground and above-ground pools. After careful examination, the Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter and the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System stand out for the in-ground and above-ground pools, respectively.

They have the most cost-effective and excellent mechanisms among the other filters on the list. You probably have a different choice, but as long as it suits your pool, you’ll spend less money and time on maintenance and enjoy swimming and relaxation more.

Passtools.com author Anastasia Russell
Anastasia is a 26-year-old blogger who always motivated to observe the ways humans interact with technology. She is currently undertaking a master degree program at the Uppsala University specializing in Human-Computer Interaction & Design Program.
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