Buying Guides for the Best Pool Filters (Above & In Ground Pool)

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Best Pool Filters

As a pool owner, you understand that any pool is prone to constant contamination caused by the dust, wind, swimmers, and tools used in and around it. Therefore, it is five important to keep it clean and safe to prevent sickness, skin allergies, and other unwanted effects.

A pool filter is a modest piece of equipment, but not a lot of people know how to choose the best one. It comes in three different filtration systems that have one common purpose: to remove a significant amount of dirt from the pool water.

If you are one of the pool owners who is confused about the various filters, this is the right information resource for you. This article features the three kinds of the pool filter system, the top pool filters reviews for either in-ground pools or above ground pools, the buying guide, and other frequently asked questions regarding this equipment.

Our Top Recommendation for Pool Filter

We researched the market and picked up top 10 of best pool filters today. We have created this table for you to be able to differentiate each best pool filter. The detailed review of each product is discussed in the latter part of this article.

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

What are the Different Types of Filter for Your Pool?

Getting the right size and type of pool filter creates a lot of difference in how convenient it is to clean and maintain your pool. The choice solely depends on you as a homeowner. Any filter can work, but make sure to consider each types’ advantages and disadvantages before making a decision.

There are three types of pool filters: sand, cartridge pool, and diatomaceous earth (DE). Which one best suits your pool, your preference, and ease of maintenance? In this section, we will describe and differentiate each types to help you out.

1. Sand filter

The sand filters are made with particular graded sand as the filter material. How does it work? The water goes into the tank via the diffuser. While the water passes through the sands, any dirt or debris present in the water is stuck between the grains. When the water reaches the edge, it goes through the laterals and gets back to the pool.

The sand filters can remove debris up to 40 microns in size. Any dirt that is smaller than 40 microns will not be filtered out. The filter requires replacement for every three to five years to ensure optimal performance.

2. Cartridge filter

The cartridge filter doesn’t filter debris as fine as the DE does, but it has an almost same level of filtration as the sand filter. It utilizes a paper-type cartridge as the filters media.

Over the years, it’s not easy to maintain, but manufacturers have created models that need cleaning only once or twice a year. Newer DE filters also have 300 to 500-square foot surface area which is bigger than the old models.

3. DE filter

As the name implies, this type uses diatomaceous earth as the filter material. This material makes up one layer of filter powder that covers the plastic grids where the filtering is done. Overall, the DE is made of these flexible grids and a unique type of fabric.

The DE is much finer than the sand. As the water passes through the grids, any debris of five to eight microns is filtered out. However, the maintenance is quite a nuisance. Every time you vacuum, you need to add the DE powder; then backwash it afterward. The grid replacement can also be expensive.

Recommended Pool Filters for Inground Pool

The most important consideration when choosing a pool filter is the type of pool (in-ground or above-ground). For the in-ground pool, here are the top six best filters:

1. Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter

Hayward ProSeries Sand FilterProbably the most popular and durable filters for in-ground pools is the Hayward ProSeries. It is measures 27 inches long with 1.5-inch VariFlo valve. The valve ranges up to seven positions to ensure optimal flow at a low-pressure drop.

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-term function. As a result, it brings back crystal clear water to your pool.

The overall construction of this Hayward ProSeries is made of rust-resistant, weather-proof polymeric material to ensure long-lasting quality. It comes with an easy-to-use lever action operation on the valve for more convenience. Another best feature is the full-flow technology that allows this product to work for shorter periods for improved energy efficiency.

Pros
  • Made of weather- and corrosive-resistant durable
    materials for long-lasting quality
  • Saves energy and electricity cost because of the full-flow technology
  • Efficient backwashing mechanism to ensure consistent water flow
Cons
  • Quite heavy but this weight may be an advantage to the sturdy built of the unit

2. Pentair Triton II Side Mount Fiberglass Sand Filter

Pentair Triton II Side Mount Fiberglass Sand Filter,pngThis innovative sand pool filter comes with a secure closure that allows easy inspection, pressure gauge for convenient reading, and swing-away diffuser for quick access to the sand and other interior parts. The Pentair Triton II is made with a fiberglass-reinforced tank with an ultra-violet surface coating. These materials provide the unit unsurpassed strength and resilience against rust, weather, and time.

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 length of operation time
  • Heavy-duty construction that prevents damage under harsh conditions
Cons
  • The air relief valve is not included in the package
  • Small pool coverage of 3.14 square feet

3. Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge

Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool FilterConstructed with meticulously-engineered extruded base and an extra-large cartridge media, the Hayward SwimClear has one of the most robust built and maximum flow of water. The one-piece, injection-molded base and body are made with a glass-secured copolymer, Perma-Glas XL, for added reliability and strength.

This Hayward SwimClear head doesn’t only look attractive, and it can also be rotated to position the pressure gauge easily and allow for manual air release. It has a locking knob to fasten it efficiently without the need for bolts or clamps. The Hayward SwimClear has a 120-square foot coverage.

This Hayward SwimClear is one of the manufacturer’s cutting-edge technologies for advanced pool equipment. It also comes with a pressure indicator gauge and can handle a maximum pool size of 57,600 gallons. If you’re on a budget, it is inexpensive, and you save gallons of water and water/electric bills per year because it doesn’t require backwashing.

Pros
  • Hand-operated locking knob without the need for additional tools
  • Cost-effective because it does not require backwashing
  • Durable construction made of glass-reinforced co-polymer
  • Outsized area of up to 120 square feet or 57,600 gallons of pool water
  • Built with a pressure indicator gauge for manual air relief
Cons
  • Installation requires some planning and time

4. Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear

Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus FiberglassProbably one of the expensive product in the list, the Pentair 160301 has a lot to offer. Intended for residential pools, it has a large filtration area of up to 420 square feet and the pump system has a flow rate of up to 150 GPM.

It measures 22-inch long by 45-inch high by 22.5-inch wide. The body is made of polypropylene tank 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. Listed under NSF, it has guaranteed superior quality and strength.

Pros
  • Ideal for residential pools because of its large filtration area
  • The continuous high flow of air release
  • Comes in a complete package with valve and pump
Cons
  • Very heavy which might cause damage to the unit upon delivery
  • Quite expensive but it comes in full package

5. Hayward ProGrid

Hayward ProGrid D.E. Pool FilterJust like any other Hayward models, the Hayward ProGrif is made of durable glass-reinforced copolymer material that lasts for many years. It comes in various sizes including 24-, 36-, 48-, 60-, and 72-square foot. It features a simple filtration mechanism that delivers reliable, low-maintenance operation.

As a vertical grid D.E. filter, the grid elements are made for up-flow filtration and top-down backwashing for efficiency. The Hayward ProGrid is built with multiple ports and slide valve option. The manual air relief valve has a high capacity and can be easily operated 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 parts. As a high-capacity D.E. filter, the Hayward ProGrid can meet the demands of poor quality pool water and harsh environmental condition.

Pros
  • Easy-to-operate manual valve in just one-quarter turn of the lever
  • Durable quality made with 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
  • Doesn’t have a surface area coverage
  • Valve for backwashing is sold separately

6. Pentair FNS Plus Fiberglass

Pentair 180009 FNS PlusOne of the most potent and versatile D.E. pool filters is the Pentair FNS Plus Fiberglass. The most important thing about Pentair FNS is it also operates with a pool heater for spa or bather applications. It has a maximum operating water temperature of up to 104 degrees F or 40 degrees C.

The fiberglass reinforced polypropylene tank is made of chemical-resistant materials that give the unit higher 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 worth 60 square feet and a flow rate of 120GPM. It has a maximum operating pressure of 50 PSI. It is 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 degrees Celsius
  • Heavy-duty fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene tank
  • Efficient filtration area of 60 square feet with a 120gpm flow rate
  • The gridlock easy to remove
Cons
  • Expensive compared to the other product in the list
  • Quite heavy because of its high-quality fiberglass material

Top Pool Filters for Above Ground Pool

If you are looking for the quality filters for your above-ground pool, we have also featured them here. We have reviewed four top-rated pool filters under this category based on the best features to consider.

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

Sand Master Soft Sided Above Ground PoolThis 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 made with rust-proof material, 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-voltage pump. It is easy to install because it comes with a package of two 1.25-inch by 7.5-foot hoses, a pump to the filter hose, and all the necessary fittings.

Backed by a one-year warranty, this Sand Master is entirely worthy of an investment.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient powered by 115-volt 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

2. XtremepowerUS 4,500GPH

XtremepowerUS 4,500GPHTrue to its name, the XtremepowerUS 4,500 GPH is one of the most powerful not only in this list but also in the industry. It comes in a large 16-inch tank that has a capacity of 42 pounds of sand and can filter pools up to 15,000 gallons. It has a reliable, consistent filtration and backwashing mechanisms that allow the water to flow through the maximum sand surface.

This XtremepowerUS can be installed in less than five minutes. The four-way valve and 3-prong plug with electric cable are portable and allow quick start and smooth operation.

The mechanism is optimized to function with low noise to make your environment cozy. Another best 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
  • Easy installation with four-way valve and three-prong plug
  • Comfortable, energy-efficient low-noise operation
  • Perfect for all brands of large inflatable above-ground pools
Cons
  • Poor after-sales support

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

Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter PumpAvailable in six sizes and four configurations, this 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 brands. It can filter out even the smallest dirt particles and algae.

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

Aside from being effective in, this all-natural sand pool filter is cost-effective as it does not require any replacement filter cartridges. It can even last for up to two years longer than other clear cartridge filter pump units.

Pros
  • Up to 24-hour operating time with auto-shut off function
  • Safe shut-off with integrated fault circuit interrupter
  • Easy to install with 1.5-inch connector hoses
  • Meets the UL/CSA standards
  • A robust flow rate of 3,000 GPH
  • Easy to operate and maintain with its six-function valve
Cons
  • The operation makes a moderate amount of noise but by no means distracting

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

Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter PumpWe have featured the Intex Krystal 28651EG, but here’s an Intex unit alternative for homeowners who want to convert their pool into salt water: 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 already 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 as mentioned above Krystal Clear, it is also powered by 110 to 120-volts with an auto-shutoff feature. In one system, it combines the electrocatalytic oxidation and the 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-shut off 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 less potent than the Intex Krystal Clear 28651EG

Frequently Asked Question

Which type of filter is best?

Every three types of pool filter have advantages and disadvantages. The sand pool filter uses all-natural sand particles that trap down debris as small as 20 to 40 microns. It is cost-effective because it does not need any filter replacement. However, since it relies on backwashing which requires a quite huge amount of water, it might increase your water bill.

The cartridge filter results in clearer pool water as it traps particles as small as 10 to 20 microns. It uses a 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 quite hard to maintain. The cartridge filter doesn’t require backwashing, but it needs cartridge replacement every two to three years.

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

Buying a pool filter depends on the type of pool you have, its size and volume, your budget, and your personal preference.

How to Choose the Right Size of Pool Filters

Choosing the right size of filters and pool pump is essential. Otherwise, the filter media will break down quickly and reduce its effectiveness. In worse cases, it will cause high-pressure build-up that will lead to an explosion.

1. Determine the proper size or 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

For the depth, regardless of the pool, find the deepest part, the shallowest, and the average. If the deepest part measures 12 feet and the shallowest is 4 feet, the average depth would be 8 (12+4=16 and 16/2=8).

b. For the rectangular pools:

Measure the length and width of the pool to find the surface area (A = L x W). Next, multiply the surface area with the average depth of the pool to determine the total volume. The overall formula will be V = L x W x D.

c. For the round pools:

Determine the surface area with the following formula: SA = pi (which is 3.14) x r2 (or radius squared). Next, identify the average depth of the pool. Multiply the bottom to the surface area to get the volume.

d. For oval pools:

This shape can be a bit tricky. Measure the longest diameter, the shortest, and the average depth. You can use this formula as a guide: Volume = longest diameter x shortest diameter x average depth.

e. For the kidney-shaped pools:

Find the longest width, the shortest, and the length. Next, determine the volume. The overall formula is this: Volume = (longest width x shortest width) x length x average depth.

2. Convert cubic feet into gallons.

After calculating the volume of your pool in cubic feet, turn it into gallons. Multiply the volume by 7.48 to achieve this conversion.

3. Calculate the gallons per minute (gpm).

Lastly, determine the gallons per minute that you would want your pump to manage. You can do it by dividing your pool’s volume by eight. With the resulting number, you can now start looking for the pump and filter. The size is directly related to the pump size. It is advisable to choose a filter that is a bit oversized so it can keep up with the flow from the pump.

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 usually used in many residential pools because it is low cost and maintenance — newer models of sand filter function well with salt water systems.

The cartridge pool filter is relatively inexpensive and provides a mild level of filtration. It has a simple mechanism that is easy to operate and maintain. The D.E. filter traps down the tiniest particles resulting in “polished” pool water quality. It has complicated operation and maintenance which is its main drawback.

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 versatile mechanisms among the other filters in the list. You probably have a different choice. As long as it suits your pool, you will spend less cost and time for the maintenance and more time for swimming and relaxation.

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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