Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: May 16, 2021
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The biggest thing you’ll want when you take a dip in your backyard pool is to ensure that the water you swim in is clean and free of contaminants. That’s where your pool filter comes into play. The best pool filters will do a fantastic job at keeping those things out of your pool so that your pool will remain clean and fresh for you to swim in.
For this review of the best pool filters, we arrived at the top 10 products after taking a careful look at 55 different models available on the market. As our Editor’s Choice, we have the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above-Ground Pools. This model combines fantastic overall qualities, is low in maintenance, and comes at an affordable price, when compared with other pool filters. Additionally, we’ll also take a look at nine other products to give you a sense of the different types of filters out there with the end goal of helping you to find the right pool filter for you.
To come up with this top 10 list, we’ve identified a few key features that we think are vital to the functioning of the pool filter. These features include the type of pool filter, the pool system, the recommended pool size, its flow rate, and its dimensions. In our over 55 hours of research, it has led us to believe that these features play the most important roles in the best pool filter. After our detailed product reviews, we’ll then turn our attention to the buying guide, where we’ll talk more in-depth about the components of a pool filter and answer some of the most common questions. We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
"For those who want to find exceptional performance, we recommend this premium D. E. pool filter with easy-to-read pressure gauge and accessible service port. It ensures a strong flow rate every time you use it."
One of the overall best pool filters is our Editor’s Choice, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above-Ground Pools. This sand filter brings tremendous versatility and fantastic value, as evidenced by its great affordability.
Whether you have a small pool (~5,000 gallons) or a medium-sized one (~13,000 gallons), this Intext sand filter pump can handle the capacity. For those with bigger pools, you’ll also be happy to know that this sand filter comes in larger sizes as well.
As the name suggests, this sand filter is made specifically for above-ground pool systems and fits pools with a diameter of roughly 15 feet or larger to be able to effectively filter out contaminants. It has a flow rate of about 1,600 GPH or approximately 27 gallons per minute (GPM). It has a 12-inch tank, and in terms of its dimensions, it measures out to 15 inches wide and 23 inches tall, not taking up too much of your space outside of the pool. This sand filter comes with a strainer basket that helps to keep the sand fresher and clean so that it will last you much longer. If you want to keep it running for extended periods, it has a nifty 24-hour timer that helps to clean the pool automatically.
Like most sand filters, you won’t have to replace the sand with this filter for at least five years. The overwhelming majority of owners were happy with this sand filter, but a few did mention that there is no memory on the pool pump timer. Therefore, in case of a power outage, you will need to restore those settings manually.
For those looking for a bargain without having to compromise quality, look no further than our Best Value choice, the Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump. This model is made especially for above-ground pools and is a cartridge type of filter. This filter also comes with an automatic timer with different options for 2-12-hour cycles.
What’s great about this pool filter is that it’s incredibly easy to install, especially if you’re new to the pool filter game, this one is good to get started with. It has a very solid 2,500 GPH pump flow rate, and this filter is particularly made for pools with a size of anywhere between 4,000 and 15,000 gallons. It could work for bigger pools too, but it wouldn’t be as optimal as for this range.
Another benefit of the cartridge filter is that it’s probably one of the easiest to clean – you simply take your hose and wash it down. However, it is recommended to change the filter once every three to four weeks. The majority of owners of this filter were very happy with its performance, given its low price tag. Nevertheless, a few owners commented that the advertised flow rate of 2,500 is not near what they received, with some people commenting that it only went as high as 1,900 for their pool.
Hayward is one of the most reliable brands when it comes to pool filters, and they make their first entry into our list with this premium product. The Hayward EC65A Perflex D.E. Pool Filter is also the first D.E. filter to be introduced here, and it is made for above-ground pools, although it’s versatile enough so you can use it for in-ground pools as well.
D.E. filters are different from the others in terms of how they work since they use a special powder that helps to remove contaminants from the water, keeping your pool clean and fresh. This filter is more of a heavy-duty type as it has a flow rate of 4,080 GPH and can work with pools of various sizes and shapes. The upright filter tank is also very durable and corrosion-resistant, leaving you not having to worry about different issues with this filter.
Refilling the powder in this filter is also an easy task as you’ll simply need a five-pound bag of D. E. powder for that. You’ll know when you need to clean it thanks to the combination of easy-to-read pressure gauge and accessible service port. What’s also neat about this filter is that it requires no backwashing, which will save you hundreds of gallons of pool water.
While the vast majority of people are in love with this filter, a few of them say that it requires frequent maintenance. Still, this is the price that you will have to pay for clear water in your pool.
The next sand pool filter on our list is the Hayward W3S220T ProSeries, which is one of the most recognizable models because of its great versatility and brand reputation.
Pool owners love it because it comes in different sizes, including the 22, 24, and 27-inch models. This sand filter is perfect because of its very sturdy design complemented by its corrosion-resistant housing and parts. It’s a top-mount model and is created specifically for in-ground pools. It has a very good flow rate of 3,120 GPH and can be a great choice for pool sizes of up to 35,000 gallons! This model has a 22-inch tank that also features a six-position control valve that is easily controllable using the lever-action handle that allows you to choose any one of the six positions.
Since it is a sand filter, it can hold up to a solid 250 pounds of material that will last you a very good five years before you need to change it. As great as this product is, a few people did make note that they received a product with a cracked bottom stand. Fortunately, thanks to the great customer support, these people could get a replacement.
What stands out?
Great overall design and durability
Available in multiple sizes
Six-position control valve
Low maintenance requirements
What cons did we manage to find?
Some user’s received filters with broken bottom stands
If you’re new to pool filters and want something that is not so intimidating to use, take a look at the Rx Clear Radiant 24 Inch Sand Filter System. This sand filter model is known for its simple setup that takes you about 30 minutes to get up and running. It’s also great because you don’t have to worry about the type of pool you have either since it works with both above-ground and in-ground types. It can also fit any shaped pool from round to oval and rectangular ones too.
This model comes in a few different sizes, with the 24-inch model that we’re showing you here as the biggest one. For the 24-inch, it has a very good flow rate of close to 3,000 GPH and is designed for pools of up to 33,000 gallons of water. It has a six-way valve that clearly shows you the pump and return settings, which is great to have if you’ve never used such a thing. And in case something does go wrong, the manufacturer offers a very flexible 3-year warranty, which you’ll want to check to find out exactly what it covers.
Although the majority of people love this easy-to-use sand filter, a few new owners were not satisfied because this filter came without its own hose, so you’ll have to buy that separately as well as filter media.
If you’re looking for a pool filter that has the highest flow rate among the products from our list, check out the Pentair 180009 FNS Plus D.E. Pool Filter. This D.E. filter has a flow rate of a whopping 7,200 GPH or 120 GPM! In 10 hours, it can pump 72,000 gallons of water! This will help to maintain the cleanliness and freshness of your water constantly, and it is great to have if you have pool parties and need to maintain water freshness throughout the day.
It’s specifically designed for in-ground pools only, and the recommended pool size for this filter is one that has 35,000 gallons of water. This filter has tall housing and measures out to roughly 50-inches in height. It’s also made with durability in mind as it boasts a chemical-resistant and fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene tank with curved vertical grids.
The filter itself has a very conveniently-located 1.5-inch drain for an easy way to clean it. The high-quality filter also ensures optimal performance, backwashing efficiency, saving you precious water, and much longer times in between cleanings.
One of the benefits of this product is that it comes ready-to-use. However, this has led a few owners to have some issues because they did not inspect to see if everything was installed correctly inside, so they had some troubles when they started the pump. Thus, it’s important to inspect it before you use this filter.
The Hayward W3C12002 StarClear Plus is classified as the best option for small pools on our list. It is meant for pools that are 120 square feet or smaller and can filter about 120 gallons of water per minute.
It is best to use this filter in an in-ground pool as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, it is made of a glass-reinforced co-polymer that is durable enough for the intended use.
Let’s also not forget that this is a cartridge filter machine. As such, you need to clean the cartridge every few weeks to ensure that the device’s cleaning efficiency is maintained. There are affordable replacement cartridges available on Amazon when your first cartridge gets to the end of its life.
Notably, the machine has a single locking knob that fastens the filter to the filter tank. This knob also makes accessing the cartridge for cleaning a walk in the park. Additionally, cleaning doesn’t seem all that complicated when it comes to this machine. You just hose down the cartridge until you get all the debris and dirt out.
For the best results, start at the top and work your way down. Another thing to note about this in-ground pool filter is the 2″ FIP threaded plumbing connections that are an excellent option for most plumbing applications.
While it may not be overly big in its stature, the Pentair Triton II Side Mount Filter TR100 is our best heavy-duty choice here. This sand filter is the most expensive option on our list, but it offers excellent durability because of its sturdy construction and multiple other features.
Starting with its very solid and durable enclosure case that looks like a ball but feels like a tank! It’s made of high-quality fiberglass material that is corrosion-resistant. This sand filter is made specifically for in-ground pools and has a flow rate of just under 6,000 GPH. This heavy-duty Triton sand filter can fit a pool size of up to 50,000 gallons and filter this amount of water in the 8-hour period, thanks to its 50-PSI maximum operating pressure and steady flow rate. Inside, the filter can hold 450 pounds of sand to help keep your water pristine and clear. This sand filter uses a swing-away diffuser that will give you instant access to the sand and the internal parts inside of it.
This pool filter model is definitely something that is not for everyone because it is simply too cost-prohibitive. However, if you have an in-ground pool and you are experienced with pool filters, you might want to consider investing in a heavy-duty pool filter that will last you for years.
Another really good option for those with smaller pools is the XtremepowerUS 2640GPH 13” Sand Filter. You can use its digital timer to set your desired time to start and stop it.
This model is designed for smaller-sized above-ground pools. It can do its work with pools containing up to 10,000 gallons of water at a flow rate of 2,640 GPH. For a pool filter that is optimal for smaller sized pools, the size of this filter is naturally compact as well. At just 24-inches tall, you can easily find a good spot for this filter. This sand filter pump is great because it is optimized for running at very low sound levels, meaning you won’t have to hear the constant humming sounds of your pool pump.
This sand filter can fit just 42 pounds of sand and is very simple and convenient to use, thanks to its digital timer. It comes pretty much ready to use, and you can easily get up and running with this pool filter in a few minutes. Most owners had no major issues with this pool filter, but a few did have some troubles with leaks and had to fix plastic connections.
If you’re annoyed by the loud sounds that your pool pump can make, it’s always good to find one that works more efficiently and quietly, and that’s what the SUNCOO Pro 2450GPH Sand Filter Pump brings to your pool. The product has an efficient filtration system with very little noise coming from the pump to give you a more relaxing swimming experience.
This sand filter is made for above-ground swimming pools and is optimal for smaller pool sizes of up to 10,000 gallons of water or less. Next, it is also neat in that it uses its own copper motor that is protected from overheating and overloading. It comes with an easy-to-use four-way valve, which you can switch between a filter, rinse, backwash, and closed position.
In terms of sand, it can hold up to roughly 45 pounds of it, which is pretty standard for a sand pool filter that is optimized for smaller pools. The majority of people love this product, even though some of them received a damaged unit, so they had to wait for the replacement. Luckily, the customer support is very responsive.
What stands out?
Great for smaller pools
Low sound operation
Copper motor with thermal and overload protection
Easy to use 4-way valve
What cons did we manage to find?
Quality control could be better
Things to Consider
Now it’s time to turn our attention away from the products and focus on the individual features and functions of the pool filters. Many different considerations can go into choosing the right pool filter for you, and obviously, the type of pool filter is the biggest one to think about. But, if you don’t know much else about pool filters, you’re in the right place, as we’ll walk you through some of the technical aspects of these products and what you should be looking for to purchase an effective unit. Let’s take a look at some of these key features.
How to pick the best pool filter?
There is no real science or recommendation when it comes to picking the best pool filter. As you’ll see, there are different types of them that can suit a variety of needs, and it really boils down to what you’re looking for in a pool filter. Aside from the type of filter, there are a few other factors to consider as well, such as your pool system, filter flow rate, filter size, ease of installation, its durability, and, of course, its price. Understanding a bit more about all of these features will help inform you better so that you have more knowledge when shopping for the right pool filter for you.
Type of pool filter
As you’ve already seen from our products, there are three types of pool filters: sand, cartridge, and D.E. Choosing the right filter is simply a matter of choice for you.
Sand filters are, by far, the most commonly used pool filter, and they tend to be more affordable than the other ones. As the name suggests, this type of filter contains sand with a drain pipe at the bottom of the tank where the water can go through the sand, depositing any impediments behind. They’re easy to maintain, but lots of water can be wasted when trying to clean it.
Cartridge pool filters are more energy and cost-efficient, and you can save more water using this filter. However, maintaining them can be more tedious since you have to manually take out the cartridges to wash them. A great example of such a product is the Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump.
Lastly, the D.E. filters are the most expensive but are also the most dependable filters. The D.E. powder does an excellent job of filtering out even the most microscopic of elements to keep your pool crystal clear. The Hayward EC65A Perflex D.E. Pool Filter is a premium product that can help you to keep water in your pool crystal clear.
Your pool system
The type of pool you have as well as the size of the pool matter when it comes to finding the right pool filter. There are filters for two types of pools: above-ground and in-ground pools. The best pool filters are specifically made and designed for a certain pool system, and thus, your pool needs to be of a certain type to be able to install it. Another important factor here is the size of your pool.
The size of your pool is important because if you have a bigger pool and you purchase a smaller pool filter, your filter will definitely struggle to keep your pool water cleared.
If you buy a bigger filter, it won’t matter as much, but you definitely want to find the right pool filter for the size pool you have. The Rx Clear Radiant 24 Inch Sand Filter System can be a nice option as it comes in various sizes and can be installed on both above-ground and in-ground pools.
The flow rate refers to the amount or volume of water that can pass through its pipe. This figure can be expressed either as gallons per minute (GPM) or gallons per hour (GPH). Thus, it’s vital that you know exactly the type of pipe you have and the maximum allowable GPM or GPH as this will help determine its maximum allowable capacity of water to flow through.
The best pool filters from our list vary in terms of their flow rate. There are some that produce standard GPH figures which are in the 2500-3000 range, but there are also others that are more high-powered and some pool filters, like the Pentair 180009 FNS Plus D.E. Pool Filter, have a GPH of 7,200. What this means is that it is able to clear larger pools effortlessly.
The sand pool filter is the smallest type out among three types we’ve evaluated by far, and it can range in diameter between 1-5 feet. It comes in the shape of a ball, and, as its filter name suggests, is filled with sand. As for how much sand it can hold, it really depends on the type of sand pool filter you end up buying. Depending on this parameter, it can hold anywhere from 40-300 pounds of sand. As for the other types of filters, the same rule applies here – the bigger the filter is, the more water it can process.
The great thing about having a sand filter is that it requires almost no maintenance, and the sand should last you anywhere from 5-10 years before you’ll need to replace it.
The sand in the filter is meant to trap particles that range in size from 20-100 microns. As these particles are caught by the sand over the years, the sand itself begins to wear down. Thus, the more sand you have in your tank, the longer this trapping process will continue. The Hayward W3S220T ProSeries Sand Filter is a great option that can be found in various sizes to fit your pool.
Ease of installation
Generally speaking, the installation of your pool filter is not incredibly difficult, but still, it can be time-consuming. You can expect the installation process to take anywhere between 1-4 hours. That said, you want to be absolutely sure you get it right the first time so that you avoid any problems in the future.
If you’re installing the pool filter for the first time, the most important thing to know is where to put the filter. There really is no ideal spot, but you’ll want to put it in a place that is easily accessible for you and where you can easily connect the water lines. You’ll also want to ensure the pool filter stands on a solid surface and not on something like grass. Some of the best pool filters come with an easy-to-follow filter assembly kit, and if your model doesn’t, it is not hard to put it together yourself, which you’ll have to do before connecting the filter to the piping system.
Just about all pool filters come with a detailed installation manual, and it’s critical that you follow each step and ensure they are completed before using the pool filter.
When you’re spending hundreds and even over a thousand dollars for one of the best pool filters, you’re definitely going to want one that is will last you a few years. Thankfully, just about all of these pool filters are made to last and have solid durability.
Because companies know that these pool filters are going to be sitting outside, many of them are resistant to the weather. For instance, the Hayward W3S220T ProSeries Sand Filter is corrosion-resistant, meaning that it holds up well when its surface interacts with chemicals in your pool (chlorine). A result of this is that it will not rust and will hold up fine.
Another durable feature of these pool filters is its resistance to UV rays. Since it’s going to sit outside all day, probably in the sun, if you live in warmer climates, your pool filter has to suit that. That is why plenty of them are UV-resistant and can handle the effects of the sun well.
What else can be important?
There are a few other considerations you should take into account when it comes to operating your pool filter.
The pressure gauge allows you to be able to check on your pool filter’s pressure to ensure that it is kept at a proper level. Pool filters need specific amounts of pressure inside their tanks to work properly. If the pressure is too high or low, the filter will likely end up not working as it should, or it can even damage your filter and tank altogether.
Another thing you’ll want to make a note of is the multi-way valve. This valve essentially tells the water where it needs to go. While your pool filter’s primary function is to filter out the sediments and residue in your water, it can also do a few other things too, and these other functions are controlled by this multi-way valve. Examples of these other functions include backwash and rinsing.
Like any product that has a variety of options to pick from, the pool filters can come with different price tags. This drastic difference in prices is great for shoppers of all types of preferences.
However, most of the best pool filters tend to be on the lower end of this range, and you can easily find one under $500 that is both cost-effective and superb in quality. There is no better option, in our opinion, than our Editor’s Choice, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above-Ground Pools that costs about $130.
Determining what type of filter better suits your swimming pool from an economic point of view can often be a challenging question to answer because it usually depends on a number of different factors. For one, it can boil down to its own cost, and there are plenty of cost-effective options out there that can satisfy this need. Next, if the frequency of maintenance is one of your biggest concerns, you might want to go with a pool filter that does not require a lot of frequent maintenance like a sand filter. Sand filters also tend to be more cost-friendly as well. If you’re looking for a pool filter that does the best job at filtering out contaminants, you might want to look at a D.E. filter.
Depending on the type of pool filter you end up buying, the backwash routines can vary. For instance, if you purchase a sand filter, you’re likely to end up backwashing your pool filter every one to two weeks. For a cartridge filter, you’re off the hook from backwashing it, and you’ll only need to rinse your cartridge filter every six months by just taking a hose and washing it. D.E. filters are probably the best in terms of maintenance as you really only need to check it once every two to four months, depending on usage.
The process of changing filters is fairly straightforward for all three types of pool filters. First, for sand filters, you will obviously need a new batch of sand once the sand in your current pool filter has expired. The good thing about this is that you’ll really only have to change the sand once every five to seven years, which is excellent durability. You can choose from a few different sand options, including silica sand, glass sand, and zeolite sand, but we recommend going with the silica sand. For cartridge filters, it’s just as simple as replacing the current cartridge in your filter with a new one. You should get a cartridge that is compatible with the current model of your pool filter to ensure it works. Lastly, with the D.E. filter, all you’ll need to do is replace the old D.E. powder with new powder once every few months.
The cost to maintain your filter really depends on the pool filter you end up choosing and how frequently and how hard your pool filter works. For sand filters, you receive the added benefit of only having to change the sand in there once every five to seven years, so the cost is really minimal in that regard. In terms of changing cartridges, you can do that by just taking a hose and washing off the cartridge itself, but when it comes time to where the cartridge needs to be replaced, you can easily find one for anywhere between $50-$150. For D.E. filters, you can buy replacement powder for as little as $25 for 25 pounds. Every time you replace the powder in your D.E. filter, you’ll probably end up using about 1-2 pounds per 10 square feet of filter area.
In our final verdict, we present to you our three favorite choices.
Leading off with our Editor’s Choice, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above-Ground Pools, this pool filter simply has and does it all. It combines fantastic value in terms of price and quality, and we love its versatility and usage of hydro aeration technology to make this pool filter give you a more enjoyable experience.
Next, we really enjoy the Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump. This one appears on our list of the best pool filters because of the low price tag and convenient automatic timer with 2-12-hour cycles. On top of that, it is very easy to install.
Hayward is a top name in the pool filter world, and we pick the Hayward EC65A Perflex D.E. Pool Filter as our final favorite option. You’ll have to pay a bit more to get this one, but it’s worth it thanks to its supreme quality. It also helps to save water because it requires no backwashing!