A Guide To The 10 Best Pool Filters (2021 Reviews)

Everyone dreams of installing a personal pool at home, until they find out that it’s a lot of work to try and keep open bodies of water clean. The thing with pools is that they get dirty even when they are not in use, so maintenance can really be tricky.

Don’t let the fear of bacteria and dirt get in the way of your dreams to swim in waters from the comfort of your home, though, especially when you can simply invest in pool filters to keep the water in your pool fresh and safe.

In this article, you will be introduced to 10 top-rated pool filters that will give you the best value for your money. These have been selected based on the filter type. In the next section, we’ll break down what you need to know when buying a pool filter.

Best Cartridge Pool Filters


Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Above-Ground Pool Filter

26 new from $64.99
4 used from $30.68
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

The Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter is a top choice for those who want to replace the free filter that comes with compatible above-ground pools. Aside from the quick-as-a-breeze installation process, this cartridge filter comes with an aeration technology that ensures enough negative ions stay on the pool surface, making the water clean and fresh for longer.

Pool filters are never supposed to run round the clock or they break down easily, which is why it’s great that the Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter has a timer function that can be set anywhere between 2-12 hours. 

Another thing that helps with the longevity of this pool filter is the air release valve, which sets off any air that may have been trapped inside the filter, allowing it to work more efficiently without succumbing to pressure.

Pros

  • Can operate pools with anywhere between 4,000 gallons to 15,200 gallons of water
  • No special tools or experience necessary to install
  • Has a handy timer which can be set from 2-12 hours
  • Easy to replace
  • Can be operated for up to 8 hours a day

Cons

  • Filter needs de-clogging every 2-3 days despite the air release valve
  • Short filter life – replacements required every 2 weeks depending on usage

Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus Fiberglass Reinforced Polypropylene Tank Cartridge Pool Filter

8 new from $1,425.00
Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

The best thing about this Pentair Clean & Clear Tank Cartridge Pool Filter is its monster capacity. With a filtration area of 420 square feet and a flow rate of 150 gallons per minute, this cartridge filter will have no trouble keeping a 30,000-gallon in-ground deep-end pool crystal clear.

However, this hardworking pool filter takes a while to fully clean large pools. To illustrate, it would take the Pentair Cartridge Pool Filter about a week to fully clean up a 24,000-gallon pool, at a regular running time of 7 hours a day.

Pros

  • A top choice for large in-ground pools given its huge filter capacity
  • Durable and long-lasting because of its A-grade material composition
  • Features a manually operated air relief valve
  • NSF-listed product
  • 150 gallons per minute flow rate

Cons

  • Despite being relatively pricey, it comes with just a one-year warranty
  • Low quality packaging – customers complain of damaged product on delivery

Best D.E. Pool Filters

Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. Filter for Above Ground Pools

12 new from $611.99
Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

If you want a D.E. pool filter that values not just your money but also your time, then this is the filter for you. It can turn murky pools into sparkling waters in just two hours. It can even get rid of a full-blown algal bloom overnight. 

Aside from large contaminants, this D.E. filter from Hayward can get rid of impurities not visible to the naked eye, with the ability to remove particles as small as 2 microns in size. This includes dust and pollen, which could still trigger allergic reactions even though we don’t see them in water.

The system has a bump mechanism that allows the tubes to flex and clean themselves off any dirt. This reduces the need for excessive maintenance, making it a breeze to keep the system running at top performance.  

Pros

  • Lightweight, small, and easy to transport
  • Runs a quick, quiet operation – even if you leave it running at night, you will barely notice any noise
  • More affordable than most other D.E. filters

Cons

  • Its official model name implies that it can be used for in-ground pools, which is simply not true.

Sta-Rite PLDE36 System:2 Modular D.E. PLDE Series Pool Filter

Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

If you have both an in-ground pool and an in-ground hot tub, this double-purpose D.E. filter can service both. 

You’d be surprised by how easy it is to maintain this pool filter. Since it has a two-piece tank, you can easily change filters without having to take the tank apart. Additionally, the entire system can completely be backwashed without the need to disassemble the thing. Just run it under a water hose to deep-clean the filtration system.

Such efficient operation would make you wish the Sta-Rite D.E. pool filter can be used for larger pools, but unfortunately it only has an effective filter area of 36 square feet, and a flow rate of up to 72 gallons per minute.

The system comes with complete backwashable capabilities, making it easy to maintain. On an aesthetic level, the compact size and dark body makes the system modern and stylish in any pool setting.

Pros

  • Can be used for both pools and tubs
  • Filters are accessible for replacement
  • Easy to deep clean
  • Durable tank can last many years
  • Easy and quick filter media replacement
  • Compact and stylish design for any pool setting

Cons

  • Has a small capacity despite its relatively expensive price

Best Sand Pool Filters

XtremepowerUS Sand Swimming Pool Filter

2 new from $199.95
1 used from $197.95
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

If you’re sold on getting a sand pool filter, the first thing you have to check is your tank’s sand capacity. Staying true to its name, the XtremepowerUS sand pool filter has an impressive ability to hold 42 pounds of sand. 

This is enough to completely filter above-ground pools with 10,000 gallons of water at most. This might not be enough for larger family pools, but it can deliver 4,500 gallons of clean water in just an hour.

It might not look and sound like it, but this pool filter is equipped with a 1.5HP motor, making it one of the most efficient units you can find in 2020, despite its near-silent operation.

Pros

  • The 13-inch tank is suitable for medium-sized pools
  • Very easy to install
  • Efficient 1.5HP motor that doesn’t make much noise
  • Reliable system with consistent performance
  • Quick backwash capabilities
  • Built-in automatic thermal overload protector for additional safety

Cons

  • Made from materials that are not highly durable

SUNCOO Pro 2450GPH Sand Filter Pump

Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

If you need a sand filter system for bigger pools, the SUNCOO filter pump might be a better choice for you. Even though it has the same 13-inch tank as the XtremepowerUS Sand Filter, this one can hold up to 45 pounds of sand, which means it can handle above-ground pools with up to 10,000 gallons of water.

A benefit of this system is the pressure gauge, which lets you know exactly what is happening inside the tank, allowing you to observe the conditions in real-time. It also has several in-built safety features, like the overheat and overload protection features, which ensure that the system works as expected.

The only drawback it has compared to the XtremepowerUS Sand Filter is that it delivers clean water at a much slower rate of 2,450 gallons per hour.

Pros

  • Suitable for large, family pools including spa, support and swimming pools
  • Made from durable, long-lasting materials
  • Doesn’t make loud noises while in operation
  • Built-in gauge allows for easy observation of tank conditions
  • Thermal and overload protection safety features
  • Easy to install and convenient to use
  • 2450 gallons per hour filtration rate

Cons

  • Cannot be used for blow up pools

Best In-ground Pool Filters

Hayward DE6020 Pro-Grid D.E. Pool Filter

2 new from $1,899.00
Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

Resort owners looking to filter commercial-level pools would benefit from this highly efficient and powerful D.E. pool filter. It will encounter no issues catering to pools with up to 40,000 gallons of water.

Such huge capacity is partnered with an efficient operation that can deliver close to 9,000 gallons of freshwater per hour. If you think this means you need to provide mounds and mounds of diatomaceous earth to make it run, you’d be interested to know that it can work with as little as 7.5 pounds of D.E. for its filtration area.

Surprisingly, this D.E. pool filter purifies not just contaminated water, but salt water, too. This makes it highly versatile and ideal for use in a wide range of pool types.

Pros

  • Delivers an impressive 8,640 gallons per hour
  • Easy to replace filters
  • Made from industrial grade materials

Cons

  • Lacks a backwash valve, so maintenance is not easy

Hayward S270T Pro Series 27-Inch Pool Sand Filter for In-ground Pool

4 new from $992.49
Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

This particular pool filter from Hayward is very popular for those who are maintaining pool resorts, since it works like a charm no matter the size of your pool. It is also weather and corrosion-proof, so you don’t have to worry about hostile weather conditions – this filter can take both heat and cold. This system is versatile, suiting both commercial and residential purposes.

The Hayward S270T Pro Series Sand Filter gives people bill shock – in a good way. You’d expect hefty power bills from such an efficient filtration system, but its full-flow technology actually doubles as a power saving system.

The system is easy to maintain, with top-down backwashing which allows for maximum efficiency. When required, it’s easy to access the internal components for servicing.

Pros

  • Can survive hostile weather conditions
  • Simple operation that requires basic maintenance
  • Relatively affordable for what it can do
  • Easy to access internal parts for servicing
  • Suitable for small and large pools 

Cons

  • Heavier than it looks

Best Above-Ground Pool Filters

Best Choice Products Pro Sand Pool Filter

Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

The Best Choice Above-Ground Pool Filter is a great choice for those whose pools have 10,000 gallons of water or less. The system has a 2,400 gallons per hour capacity which allows for quick filtration. The pump uses a sand filter which offers consistent performance and powerful filtration capacities.

The Best Choice is a self-priming unit, which means that it works automatically to generate water flow once you turn it on, even if there is air in the system. This reduces maintenance and the need to monitor your pump, compared to manual priming pumps.

On top of all that, it has a pretty efficient backwashing system too, so maintenance is not something you have to overthink. The system is also CSA certified, meaning that it’s been independently tested to meet safety standards.

Pros

  • An entire kit – no need to purchase anything separately
  • Can clean up to 10,000 gallons of water in incredible speed
  • 2,400 gallons per hour capacity
  • Easy maintenance
  • Self-priming system

Cons

  • If one part breaks down, looking for a replacement can be a pain

XtremepowerUS 16″ Above-ground Swimming Pool

Amazon.com
as of September 15, 2022 12:49 am

This is exactly like the Xtremepower above-ground pool filter we discussed earlier, except it has a bigger capacity that can clean up to 12,000 gallons of water in one go. It features a an effective sand filtration system, with a 7-way multi-port valve that lets you choose exactly what you want the machine to do, i.e. filter, backwash, re-circulate and rinse, to name a few.

Even though it will not suffice for use in in-ground pools, but it is suitable even for the largest above-ground pools you can get your hands on. But the filter works on more than just above-ground pools – it’s versatile enough to be used for fountains, water gardens and even fish tanks. Overall, an easy to use, effective filtration system that’s easy to install and maintain.

Pros

  • Has a very strong sand filtration system
  • Suitable for both small and large above-ground pools
  • 7-way port allows easy operation

Cons

  • Comes with few instructions, so you might have to scour the internet for guidance on how to install or operate the unit.

How to Choose a Pool Filter

Girl swimming

One of the first decisions you have to make when choosing a pool filter is deciding on the type of filter. Pool filters can be divided into three main types.

Sand Pool Filters

Sand filters are one of the most popular types of pool filters because they’re easily available and the most affordable of all the pool filtration types. Traditionally, most pools utilized pool filters. However, these filters only remove particles around 20 microns or more in size and not smaller.

A sand filter consists of the following components:

  • A tank – this is what holds the sand. Only about 75% of the tank is filled with sand while the other 25% remains as free space.
  • Sand – this is the filtration media and is located within the tank. Not all types of sand can be used – only a specific type of sand with heightened filtration properties is used.

The way sand filters work is relatively simple. First, the tank is filled up with pool water and allowed to filter through the sand. This then removes out the dirt, debris and sediment in the water. The water is then sent back to the pool, while the dirt remains in the tank. The system requires periodic backwashing to clean out the dirt and debris.

Pros of sand filters:

  • Low price point
  • Easy maintenance, only requiring periodic backwashing and rinsing
  • Easily available
  • The filtration medium (sand) can be used for up to 7 years
  • Simple and straightforward operation

Cons of sand filters:

  • Backwashing and rinsing use up a lot of water
  • Does not remove smallest particles
  • Less effective compared to the other types of pool filters
  • Needs draining space for backwash water

Cartridge Pool Filters

Cartridge pool filter

These filters have become extremely popular of late, because of their high effectiveness. When choosing a cartridge filter, consider whether you want a single element cartridge or a multi-element cartridge filter, which can have between 2-4 cartridges. Typically, multi-element filters are more effective and require less maintenance. 

There are several types of cartridge filters, but they all operate on the same principle. These filters typically contain a pleated filtration medium, which offers more area for filtration and a higher filtration capacity. Unlike sand filters, cartridge filters can remove particles as small as 10 microns.

Because cartridge filtration takes time to work effectively, they work best with slower flow rates. If the water gushes too quickly through a cartridge filter, the filter doesn’t have the time it needs to filter out dirt. As the water moves through the filter medium, the contaminants get stuck to the filter while the clean water moves on back to the pool.

Cartridge filters are easy to maintain and are energy and resource efficient. They don’t waste water, as they don’t require backwashing or rinsing, but they do require periodic replacements of the filter medium as per your usage and water quality.  

Pros of cartridge filters:

  • Medium price point
  • Water-efficient as it does not require backwashing or rinsing
  • Good filtration capacity (as low as 10 microns)
  • Easy to maintain
  • Sustainable option due to higher energy efficiency

Cons of sand filters:

  • Cartridges require replacement when used up
  • Cartridges can be prone to clogging due to algal build-up
  • Maintenance required – rinsing and cleaning cartridge
  • Doesn’t work well with quick flow rates
  • Ongoing cost of cartridge replacement

Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Pool Filters

Pool filter powder

D.E. Powder for Pools. Check price here.

D.E filters are an excellent way to maintain the hygiene of your pool. They’re considered by many to be the best type of pool filter due to the many benefits they offer. This type of filter works in a similar fashion to sand filters, with the main difference being the type of filtration medium used.

D.E. filters work with diatomaceous earth – which is the fossilized remains of diatoms (microscopic sea creatures) and powdered seashells. What this allows for is more effective filtration as low as 2 to 5 microns. From the three options, D.E. filters are the most effective at cleaning your pool.

Just like sand filters, D.E. filters also retain the debris and particles in the system, which is why they require periodic cleaning and backwashing. However, one negative is that during this process, a lot of the D.E. is lost, requiring you to fill up the tank with additional D.E. powder after every backwashing cycle. You’ll also need to clean the filter elements, which means a lot more maintenance than other types of pool filters.

Another point to note – because D.E. is such a fine powder, it can be a health hazard for those with skin and lung conditions. It may also be a carcinogen, so take care when handling this product.

Pros of D.E. filters:

  • Best filtration capacity – as low as 2 microns
  • Backwashing only required every few months
  • High durability if maintained as required
  • Excellent performance

Cons of sand filters:

  • High cost
  • D.E. powder can cause health issues and should be handled carefully
  • New D.E. powder required after each backwash
  • High maintenance as filter grids require cleaning
  • Uses up water and D.E. powder with each backwash cycle
Pros and cons of pool filter types

Which Filter Should I Choose?

This really comes down to your specific situation and pool requirements. You’d have to consider several factors when deciding on which pool filter best suits your needs. These include:

  • Your budget
  • The size and capacity of the filter
  • Maintenance routines
  • Ease of use
  • Repair costs
  • Type of pool
  • Brand
  • Color

Most people choose sand filters for above ground pools as they’re more affordable and easier to set up. However, for in-ground pools, both D.E. and cartridge filters are equally popular.

Choosing the Right Size for Your Pool Filter

One of the most important considerations when purchasing a pool filter is to consider the size.  If you choose the wrong size, your filter isn’t going to perform as expected and you won’t get the results you’re hoping to get.

When sizing a pool filter, here’s what you need to do:

  • Size your pool – the first step is to calculate the capacity of your pool by finding out the total volume of the pool. Note that you’d have to account for deep and shallow ends as well. However, to get an approximate number, you’d use the following formulas:
    • Rectangular pool– length x width x average depth x 7.48 (number of gallons in a cubic foot of volume)
    • Round pools – radius x 3.14 x depth x 7.48
  • Find out the gallons per minute (GPM) you need – once you know the number of gallons in the pool, you’ll need to find out the gpm required from the pool pump. If you’re pool has 20,000 gallons, divide this number by 8 (hours) and then further divide that by 60 (minutes) to arrive at your gpm. This would come to 20,000/8 = 2,500 gallons per hour/60 = 42 gpm.
  • Find your filter – now find a filter that has a flow rate of 42 gpm or higher. If unsure, choose at least one size bigger to be on the safe side. As mentioned above, a size or two bigger is always better than a size or two smaller.

This is a highly simplified breakdown of how to calculate the required size of your pool filter pump. If unsure, there are pool volume calculators that can help you calculate the volume of the pool more accurately.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by all the pool filter options you have, but as long as you know exactly what you’re looking for and the kind of pool you’re getting (if you don’t already have one), this list should have narrowed down those options to only the best ones.

While there’s no consensus on which filter is the best, it all comes down to your specific needs so it’s best to know what you need for your pool before you even start searching for pumps. Find out the required filter pump capacity and size for your pool and the type of pool filter that’ll best suit your needs. If money is no object, opt for a D.E. filter but for a mid-range system, a cartridge filter works well. For above-ground pools or for a more affordable option in general, a sand filter does the job well.

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