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Being able to take a swim in the pool at the end of the day is truly a dream. But being immersed in dirty water is what ruins that dream. The pool filter is precisely that tool that, with a very small investment, ensures that the water remains always clean. But which pool filter do you choose? Well, two of the key aspects concern the size and capacity of the pool itself. It is then necessary to consider which type of filter is most suitable and with which pump it will be used.
In the review, the best pool filters will be categorized into three types. Keep reading to compare the models at your disposal and you’d be able to identify the best pool filter for your needs.
Pool Filter Types
Before buying, many ask themselves whether they should use a pool sand filter or a cartridge pool filter. The answer depends on several factors. In principle, however, it can be said that sand filters are the best pool filters for large pools while DE and cartridge filters are more suitable for small to medium-sized pools.
Sand Pool Filter
Pool sand filter systems are particularly powerful and efficient when it comes to cleaning pool water and if you have a large pool, you should opt for this type of filter.
Quartz sand is used as the filtration element. The filter has the function of filtering suspended particles from the water. Suspended particles are sucked in by a pool pump, filtered through the sand, and pumped back into the pool.
The dirty water should be backwashed through the pool filter once a week while the wastewater is led into the drain. This process ensures constant filter performance.
The pool sand filter system should circulate the water around 2-3 times a day. Therefore, these swimming pool filters should always be operated with a pump. There are also sand filters that can be purchased without a pump, but these must be connected to an external pump.
You also have the option of purchasing a pre-filter for the sand filter. This can increase the service life of the filter in the long term.
The pre-filter filters coarse dirt particles from the water so that they cannot damage the sand filter. A sand filter with a prefilter is comparatively expensive, but this quickly pays for itself due to the long service life of the filter system.
If the pool floor is slightly dirty, it can be cleaned with a sand filter. However, if the pollution persistently settles on the ground, the performance of the pool filter system is no longer sufficient and it must be remedied with a pool vacuum.
Either sand or glass can be used as the filter medium and both variants have different advantages and disadvantages.
Accordingly, both filter media are well suited for a filter system. However, a glass filter has some good advantages over a sand filter. For example, due to the low density, less filter glass has to be added to the filter system.
At the same time, the filter glass has to be changed less often. The backwashing process is also shortened because the dirt can be rinsed out more quickly.
A lot of water and energy can be saved by using filter glass. This makes filter glass a sustainable alternative to pool filter sand.
Pros of sand filter
- Requires the least maintenance
- Sand only needs replacement once in five years
- Least expensive pool filter
- Inexpensive sand replacement
- Available for all pool sizes
- Has the optimal micron rating for well water
Cons of sand filter
- Leaves out medium-sized particles
- Required backwashing wastes water
Cartridge pool filters, just like pool sand filters, also filter dirt particles out of the water and these are mostly larger dirt particles.
The smallest dirt particles can only be filtered out with the help of a chemical filter. If you want clear water, you should always combine a cartridge filter system with a chemical filter.
Connecting the filter pump to the pool creates a circuit that sets the water in motion.
A so-called skimmer floating on the surface of the water, which may be used multiple times, sucks in the water and the dirt, and guides it through a hose to a filter, which holds back the dirt.
The water is fed back into the pool through the cartridge and cleanly via a hose. There are also hanging filters that are simply attached to the edge of the pool. The filter pump is connected to an external power source or, depending on the model, operated via integrated solar cells. Depending on the size and type of pool for which you want to purchase a pool cartridge filter, different filters are suitable.
For smaller round pools, paddling pools, or a swimming pool that you disassemble in winter, we recommend complete cartridge pool filters that are supplied ready-to-hang and where you only have to connect the pump with a plug.
You simply hang such a filter over the edge of the pool. A smaller device with a delivery rate of 2 cubic meters per hour is sufficient for small pool. For aboveground pools with a larger amount of water, correspondingly larger filters, which have a higher delivery volume and are set up outside the pool, are the most suitable.
However, in general, cartridge pool filters are only suitable for small and medium-sized pools. The pool should not contain more than 10,000 liters of water. Also, the cartridge filter always needs a filter medium. Various filter materials for the pool are available here.
Pros of cartridge filter
- Filters more efficiently than sand filters
- Easier to install
- More environmentally friendly
- Makes backwashing unnecessary
- Require low maintenance
Cons of cartridge filter
- Filtering abilities lost with each maintenance
D.E. Pool Filter
Diatomaceous earth, used as a filter medium, is mined from fossilized exoskeletons of small diatom algae. D.E. pool filters can filter out particles that are smaller as 5 microns.
The filter area is sized at around 60 to 70 square feet and once the filter pressure rises, the filter is washed in the same way as a sand filter pump and then “recharged” or replaced with more powdered diatoms. It is normally poured into a slurry in the skimmer and then coats the pool filter screens.
A D.E. pool filter can operate at higher pressures than cartridge filters and as such can result in some loss of water flow and inefficiency.
Pros of D.E. filter
- Less pump run time
- Best filtration efficiency of the three
- Requires low use of sanitizing chemicals
- Filters out up to 5 microns
Cons of D.E. filter
- Requires the most maintenance
- The most expensive
How Pool Filter System Works?
The filter is the primary cleaning and purifying mechanism for your water, and it plays a crucial role in keeping your water crystal clear and bath-safe. Sand filter pumps are the most common and, at the same time, they are also the ones that require the least maintenance. The water is cleaned by passing through a tank with a filtration medium. As the water is filtered, dirt particles become trapped in the filter bed before the water is returned to the pool. Below are the processes that occur in a pool system.
Steps of the pool water filtration
The pool pump sends the water to the pool filter so that it can be treated and cleaned, and thanks to the filtering load (sand, cartridge, or D.E.) inside it, impurities will be retained.
This pump, utilizing an electric motor, turns a turbine, sucking the water from the pool through the skimmer and sump. It requires a disinfectant product (chlorine) either chemical, which is more common and conventional or more innovative systems such as natural chlorine through salt water chlorinator. These products are responsible for neutralizing the invisible microorganisms that develop in the pool (especially in the summer period).
The water is pushed into the vacuum chamber, which is the pump casing and the water passes into a tank or reservoir that contains a special filter material (flint sand or eco-filter glass), which carries out the physical treatment (filtration) of the water.
Most of the impurities contained in the water are retained in what we call a filter bed. Then, the diffuser, located inside this tank (filter), helps remove air bubbles.
Obviously, the flow rate of the pool pump and the filter must be similar and consequently, the size of the filter diameter will also be defined by the size and power of the pump.
This system allows an operation called backwashing of the filter. By manipulating the keys, we manage to reverse the direction of water circulation in the filter and, with this, expel the materials retained in the filter to the drain. This operation is usually very easy to perform. To know when this backwash operation is necessary, a pressure gauge is installed on the filter that tells us when it should be done.
Top 6 Best Pool Filters
There are a lot of pool filters on the market, but we’ve handpicked the 6 best models among them from the three most common types of filters.
Best Sand Pool Filters
As earlier explained, sand pool filters are the most common type of filters. One of the reasons they are very popular with pool owners is that they require the least maintenance effort: usually, the sand requires changing once in 3 to 5 years. Below are some of the best sand pool filters:
1. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter with 1200 GPH Flow Rate for Above Ground Pools
A filter that features a pre-filter, the Intex Krystal Clear sand filter pump impresses pool owners with its high filtration performance. It has a flow rate of 1,050 gallons per hour (GPH). We strongly feel this would be sufficient for a pool water volume of 2,800 to 8,400 gallons – that is, a maximum of 32,000 liters. It worked efficiently for Intex pool products installed on the ground.
The sand filter, with 26lbs of sand content, can be used for all above ground pools suitable with the INTEX standard hose connection. The filter performance is guaranteed up to a water temperature of 35°C.
In addition, the sand filter has INTEX water revitalization technology. This improves the circulation and filtration of the water, which ensures increased water clarity. At the same time, it improves the air quality in the pool and prevents the oxidation of iron and manganese.
The fact that the filter performance is very good and the water quality is significantly improved is rated positively by the buyers.
However, you have to activate the filter every day despite the timer. For some buyers, the pump could be quieter.
Meanwhile, the pros of the product far outweigh the disadvantages as it is suitable for pools with a water volume of up to 36,000 liters and include a pre-filter and pressure gauge. Finally, it’s a self-priming pump with a 6-way valve.
For use in large pools such as a 1900 gallon pool, do not forget to run it for a little time, i.e. one to 12 hours daily.
2. Hayward S244T ProSeries 24-inch Filter with Top-Mount
Hayward Pro Series High Capacity Filters offer the latest in swimming pool filter technology with gentle backwash, efficient flow, and fully balanced.
The Hayward pool filter tank is molded in corrosion-resistant polymeric material and has the Vari-Flo 7-position manifold valve. It features an upper diffuser for even distribution and foldable manifolds using hinges for easy pool maintenance
The filter tank has an integrated drain plug but does not include silica sand. A favorite among swimming pool owners, this Hayward Pro Series filter offers efficient flow, a fully balanced backwash, and an advanced automatic cleaning system for improved filtration. Its durable and corrosion-resistant filter tank is made of colorfast material for durability and all-weather performance while the 7-position Vari-Flo valve provides maximum flow with lower pressure drop
The pool equipment has a large sand/water pressure drain for winter protection or quick pool maintenance. Its upper diffuser ensures uniform water distribution over the entire sand bed for maximum use of the filtration area. Finally, there are precision foldable self-cleaning sides for balanced flow and backwash as well as easy maintenance.
Before and while installing the filter, it’s advisable to check out related instruction videos on the Internet to help with the installation. You can save a lot of money doing this by yourself.
Best Cartridge Filter
If the best thing about sand filters is with the less maintenance, cartridge filters are known for being more effective at filtration than sand filters. They filter 20 to 10-micron particles and are suitable both for above ground pools and inground pools.
3. Intex Krystal Clear 1000 GPH Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pool
The Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump can pump approximately 3800 liters per hour through the filter and offers a Turbidity Reduction Efficiency of 55.3%. Intex’ Krystal Clear will effectively transport approx. 2700 liters per hour. The pump filters 88.7% of the amount of dirt out of the water and holds it back in the filter cartridge.
According to the manufacturer, this should be changed every two weeks and is already included in the purchase, to get started immediately. However, type A filter cartridges are most suitable.
The maximum volume of the pool to be cleaned should not be more than 21.1 cubic meters, that is 21,000 liters of water. In addition, the model is also suitable for pool hoses with a diameter of 32 mm.
Intex, the manufacturer says that it is simple to install and convenient to handle while, in the opinion of customers, the cartridge filter offers a good price-performance ratio. Note that the cartridge pool filter cannot be used for inground pool, we recommend this for small above ground pools or for stock tank pool with a capacity of not more than 22,000 liters or 6,000 gallons.
4. Pentair 160301 420 Square Feet Clean & Clear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter for Above Ground Pool
Pentair’s Clean and Clear Plus cartridge pool filter system is built into a tank made of propylene material reinforced with fiberglass. With a filter capacity to make a flow rate of up to 9,000 GPH and 150 GPM, this cartridge pool filter is ideal for large pools. It can filter an area as large as 420 square feet and comes with the needed cartridges. This pool filter can filter down to 10-micron sized particles and will keep your pool clean. It is therefore why Pentair calls it the Clean and Clear Plus pool filter.
Buyers describe the pump’s performance as very good as it filters efficiently and effortlessly, especially in medium-sized pools. But they also emphasize that you have to lend a hand yourself with somewhat larger pools (more than 10 cubic meters). Here the filter of the pump should be cleaned in between, otherwise, it will become full, and hardly any power will penetrate.
The price-performance ratio of the Pentair Clean and Clear Cartridge Filter Pump is rated as good. It is rated negatively by a few users because the filter came with some breakages suspected to have occurred during transit. You should ensure that there is no air in the pump, as it will then no longer work properly.
Best DE Pool Filter
DE pool filters are the least common of the three but they remove the smallest particles (up to 5 microns) in the pool. The best of this type include the:
5. Hayward W3DE6020 ProGrid DE Pool Filter for 60 Square Foot Filtration Area
Freeing your pool of even the smallest particles of debris without the need to use additional products for water treatment is a reality with Hayward Pro Grid Diatomaceous Earth Filters. The pool filter guarantees extreme filtration fineness for incomparably clear water. It can filter down to the smallest 2 to 5 microns particles.
Its composition with micro-grids allows superior filtering that results in totally pure and crystalline water, ideal for pools and spas of all types and sizes, with unsurpassed quality and at an excellent price.
The product comes with a quick-release outlet valve that expels air with only a quarter-turn of the lever. There is also a highly resistant tamper evident clamp. Hayward W3DE6020 is made from a highly weather and corrosion-resistant material for long life and it’s easy to install and maintain. You can use it both for an above ground pool and inground pool.
An industry-wide benchmark, the Hayward® Pro-Grid diatom filter offers unmatched filtration, ranging from 2 to 5 microns, for the most demanding customers. This refinement also reduces the use of treating products.
Definitely high-end, with a 10-year tank warranty, Pro-Grid is the filter par excellence and it simply cleans with backwash.
Given the presence of diatom, it is necessary to install a recovery basin to avoid the dispersion of this product in the environment. You should be aware that quaternary ammonium algaecides, PHMBs, and flocculants are incompatible with cartridge filters.
6. Hayward W3EC40C92S Perflex 1 HP D.E. Filter Pump System for 20 Square Foot Inground Pools
The Hayward Perflex Diatom Filters offer good quality water filtration as well as great cleaning ability, whatever the size of the pool. This system comes with a reinforced housing that is resistant to saline corrosion and chemical attacks. It has the Flex-Tube design which ensures a longer cycle before you need to clean the system. You can use this for pools used by pets as it can be deployed for dog hair, without clogging up the filter.
The Hayward diatom filters have been developed using the latest innovations in diatom pool filtration. It’s part of a range made up of three models that cover maximum filtration areas of 20 to 25 square feet in inground pools.
Hayward Perflex features a manual vent that allows you to easily remove the air trapped in the filter. The high resistance tank is made of polymer reinforced with fiberglass for anti-corrosion. Its filter elements are designed for optimal filtering and highly effective backwashing with high strength sealing ring, which eliminates the risk of misalignment when the filter is mounted. Plus, for ease of maintenance, the system only has one bolt and one nut – no more handling of multiple parts!
Finally, the pool system comes with a 1½-inch drain plug (emptying), which allows the filter to be emptied quickly and conveniently. However, you have to drain the filter only two times in a season.
Buying Guide: Don’t Miss the Tips for Choosing a Best Pool Filter
When buying a pool filter for your pond or swimming pool, you should compare certain criteria and properties of the various products. However, there is one point to be clarified in advance: How big is the pool whose water you want to filter and clean with the system?
A filter that is too small does not make the pool clean sufficiently, while a filter that is too large consumes more electricity than is necessary. For this reason, you should first check the pool size.
And these are the other criteria when buying a sand, cartridge, or D.E. filtration system:
The circulation capacity of the filter
The circulation capacity of the pool filter is particularly important for larger swimming pools. As already mentioned several times, the pool water should be completely circulated and cleaned at least twice a day. The pool filter’s capacity indicates how many liters of water your pump can clean per hour. This value is listed in the product description for most models but the higher the performance of the pump, the faster the water in your pool is cleaned.
To keep the operating costs as low as possible, you should also pay attention to the power consumption when buying a pool filter. A filter with an output of 500 watts consumes around half a kilowatt-hour with a running time of one hour. Most filters have an output between 250 and 500 watts.
The valve setting
Most of the filters are equipped with either a five-way valve or a six-way valve. Some models only have four setting options, whereby you should make sure when buying that the backwash function is definitely included. Because with this function, you clean the sand in the filter to maintain the functionality of the entire system.
Pool filter pressure gauge
The pressure gauge is an important feature of a filter. This manometer is a pressure measuring device that is used for liquids or gases. In a sand, cartridge, or D.E. filter, the manometer is used to measure the pressure within the system and to display it to you. If there is a fault in the system, you can recognize this directly from the display on your pressure gauge.
As a rule, filters have hose connections with 32 or 38 millimeters. However, the best system will not work without a connecting hose. If you want to attach a hose with a different diameter, you have to use an appropriate adapter.
Filtration media quantity
The filling quantity of the filter sand, cartridge/balls, or D.E. is also to be mentioned as a feature of the filter. Most devices are filled with around 12 to 15 kilograms of sand, some have a capacity of 35 kilograms or more. A DE filter needs one pound of diatomaceous earth for every 10 square feet of the filter. The manufacturers of the various filtration systems always state how much filtration media you should put in the filter tanks. You should also orient yourself to this filling quantity because there is a reason. The system can only properly clean the water with the correct amount of filtration media. If the boiler is too full, the medium cannot spread; if there is no sand in the boiler, the cleaning function is not performed correctly.
What should pool filter pressure be?
The optimal operating pressure that is considered normal is around 10 to 25 psi. An integrated manometer shows you not only the current operating pressure but also the degree of contamination of the filter medium in the filter.
Why is my pool filter not working?
The problem could be caused by a clogged impeller, pump basket, pipe, or skimmer. A broken or closed valve before the pump of an air leak that is causing too much-drawn water could be reducing filter pressure, and the pool filter may not work well due to this.
When to change pool filter?
Pool filters should be changed over time so that the filter performance is maintained. The pool filter runtime is very different and depends on the respective filter medium. For example, filter sand can be used for up to 3 years, and filter glass for up to 10 years. Diatomaceous earth should be changed about twice a season. Cartridge filters with filter cartridges should be changed around twice a month. Cartridge filters that use filter balls are much more durable and can be used for up to 4 years if they are cleaned regularly.
How often pool filter clean?
Some pool filters should be cleaned regularly. Cartridge filters with filter cartridges or filter balls should be cleaned every few days. This depends on the degree of pollution of the water. Filter cartridges can be rinsed under running water. Sand filters are cleaned by being backwashed once every fortnight. This will lead the dirty water down the drain and the sand will be cleaned at the same time.
Pool filters ensure constant water quality and there are various types to choose from before purchasing. These have their own advantages and disadvantages. In general, one can differentiate between these types of pool filters: sand filter, cartridge filter, and diatomaceous earth (DE) pool filters. D.E. pool filters offer the highest quality water but you’ll need to put more effort into maintenance. Sand pool filters are generally inexpensive, will only require medium replacement in 3 to 5 years, sometimes up to 7, and are generally considered the overall best pool filters. Cartridge filters can filter down to 20 to 40 microns and are the second most common pool filter.
In our in-depth buying guide, we also compared between the different types of filters, discussed the necessary parameters to consider before choosing, and answered the possible questions you may be asking. By now, we hope you have now found your own best pool filter.