A pool filter is something that pool owners cannot live without. Making sure that your pool filter is something that works for your pool is essential, and there are many options on the market. Since there are so many types and brands of pool filters, it can be overwhelming and a bit stressful to choose the right one.
The good news is that we have done the work for you. We have gone through hundreds of different pool filter options to narrow down some of the best across a few different categories. If you are new to pool ownership or simply know your current filter is on its last legs, here are the best pool filters on the market.
The 8 Best Pool Filter Reviews
1. Best Small Pool Filter: Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 530 GPH Pump Flow Rate, 110-120V with GFCI
- Hydro Aeration Technology improves circulation, filtration, and water clarity, as well as increases negatives ions on the surface
- Compatible with Intex pools up to 3,800 gallons with 1.25-inch diameter hose fittings
Having a small pool does not mean that you want to deal with dirty pool water. Luckily most of the filters for a smaller pool will be a bit less expensive than those for a large pool. The Krystal Clear Cartridge filter is an affordable option for those with a pool with less than 3800 gallons of water.
With the Hydro Aeration Technology included in this model, you will get excellent water clarity and circulation. These filters are easy to clean, and they are quick to replace when the time comes. This is a perfect choice for a new pool owner that is not comfortable with pool plumbing and functionality.
- Easy to operate
- Perfect for small above ground pools
- Durable filter tank for all-weather performance
- Need to purchase replacement cartridges
2. Best Hayward Filter: Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter, 24-Inch, Top-Mount
- The Hayward ProSeries 24-Inch Top-Mount Pool Filter features efficient, multilateral underdrain assembly with precision-engineered, self-cleaning 360° slotted laterals for totally balanced flow and...
- Integral top diffuser ensures even distribution of water over the top of the sand media bed
- Unitized, corrosion-proof filter tank is molded of rugged, colorfast polymeric material for dependable, all-weather performance
- 6-position Hayward VariFlo control valve with easy-to-use lever-action handle lets you dial any of the valve/filter functions
Hayward is a premium name pool brand, and many of their products are known for being high quality and long-lasting. This particular ProSeries Sand Filter is a very common and durable filter that is easy to maintain. There is a 6 position control valve to help you get the flow rates perfect for this sand filter.
Overall the sand does a great job of filtering your swimming pool water, and you will only need to replace the sand every few years. The sand filters need to be back washed. This Hayward Pro Series allows you to turn a valve and have the filter and pool cleaned within minutes.
- High-quality sand filter
- even distribution of water of sand bed
- All-weather performance
- Medium-sized filter, not for very large pools
3. Best Above Ground Pool Filter: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 12-inch, 110-120V with GFCI
- SAND FILTER PUMP: The 12-inch Intex Krystal Clear sand filter pump with Hydro Aeration Technology improves circulation and filtration. The pump runs on 110-120V and weighs 36.4 pounds
- EASY-TO-USE: 6-function control makes maintenance easy, giving options to backwash, rinse, recirculate, drain, filter, and close the system. The easy to operate sand filter pump that will outperform your...
- FEATURES: Built-in 24-hour timer enables you to set automatic filtration times for the pool to save on daily maintenance, ergonomic handle, and pressure gauge. With a built-in ground fault circuit...
- FLOW RATE: Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump generates a pump flow rate of 2,100 gallons per hour, ideal for above ground pools and the heavy-duty tank is durable with the pump enclosure for protection.
Many people choose to go with a cartridge pump for an above-ground pool. Swimming pool filters all have their own positives and negatives. The problem with the cartridge pump is that you will need to keep purchasing cartridges. We love this sand filter pump for above-ground swimming pools.
Although you will pay a bit more upfront for the Intex Krystal Clear, you will get very good longevity and lots of functionality. You can filter, backwash, rinse and even use this filter to drain and close your system. If you have invested in an above-ground pool, investing in a filter like this is worth making.
- Sand filter is easy to take care of
- Simple installation
- 6 position control valve
- Higher upfront cost than the cartridge filter options
4. Best Intex Pool Filter: Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 1000 GPH Pump Flow Rate, 110-120V with GFC
- Easy to use - simply replace the old cartridge with a new one every two weeks, Double insulated pump
- The number on the actual item seen in the image is 637R, is the component part number that corresponds to the individual part for the system and this does not pertain to the model # 56637EG.
- Air release valve for air trapped inside filter chamber.we do not suggest operating the pump for more than 8 hours per day
The Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump is the best choice for an Intex brand filter. If you own an above-ground Intex pool, this is a great choice. Not only is this filter affordable, but it is also easy to use. One of the biggest issues that people have with pool filters is understanding how to use them.
If you have a small above-ground pool that may or may not even stay out all year long, the last thing you need is a complicated filter system. This filter has a filter that you replace every two weeks, and it can work on pools up to 6000 gallons.
- Easy to install and set up
- Simple filter cartridges to replace
- Fairly priced
- Will need to buy filters to replace continually
5. Best Cheap Pool Filter: Swimline 12 in Sand Filter Combo-0.33 Hp, Filtration, Multi
The words cheap and pool filter do not typically go together. Pool filters are quite expensive, and they are truly what keeps our pools swimmable. Many above ground pool owners finding a sand filter for a good price may seem out of the question. The good news is that this Swimline 71225 is actually a very affordable choice.
Overall the Swimline Sand Filter Combo is very quire, and it will do a great job cleaning a smaller above ground pool. This particular model holds about forty pounds of sand and offers you the functionality to backwash your pool as well. Simple, effective, and fairly priced, the Swimline is a product work considering.
- Good pricing
- Sand filters are a good choice for longevity
- Does a great job of cleaning the water
- Some have had issues with the handle on the top of the filter
6. Best Sand Pool Filter: Rx Clear Radiant 24 Inch Sand Filter System | for In-Ground Swimming Pools Up to 33,000 Gallons
- CLEAN AND SAFE WATER - This filter is designed to handle the filtration needs of many of today's pools. It provides an efficient, easy-to-use operating system that will assist in keeping your above-ground...
- WILL IT FIT MY INGROUND POOL? - The Rx Clear Radiant 24-inch sand filter is designed for inground pools measuring up to 33,000 gallons. It is compatible with the following swimming pool sizes: 12’ round,...
- EASY TO INSTALL - Labeled ports on the 6-way top mount filter valve are clearly visible for the pump and return. Comes with 1.5 inch threaded connections, a filter base and user’s manual.
- FILTER MEDIA OPTIONS AVAILABLE - For optimal performance, this 24” unit requires the following media amounts: 6 Boxes RX Clear Luster Filter Media, 150 lbs.of Zeo-Clear Filter Media or 300 lbs of...
- DURABLE - The core of these systems is the one-piece blow-molded tank. The interior consists of the stand pipe and laterals. This filter tank comes with a 3-Year limited warranty against manufacturer’s...
The sand filter is probably the most well known filter pump choice on the market. With the simplicity of use and removing even small particles from the water, a sand filter is a good choice. This particular Rx Clear Radiant is efficient in cleaning up to 33,000 gallons of water. This will work for both inground and above ground pools.
One of the great features of the Rx Clear Radiant is that it is a durable filter. The tank comes with a 3 year limited warranty and will work to keep your pool clean, even in hard weather conditions. Consider the advantages of a sand pool filter system and make sure that you get something with the best long term benefits for your home.
- Durable filter pump
- Several filter media options
- Large filter tank
- Works for pools up to 33,000 gallons
- Water quality is not always as good as DE pool filters
7. Best DE Pool Filter: Hayward ProGrid D.E. Pool Filter, 48 Square Foot
- The Hayward ProGrid 48-Square-Foot Pool Filter offers superior large-capacity performance, efficiency and water clarity
- High-impact grid elements provide up-flow filtration and top-down backwashing for maximum efficiency
- Durable, glass-reinforced copolymer construction ensures corrosion-free durability and withstand the elements
- Heavy-duty, tamper-proof, one-piece clamp provides quick access to internal components without disturbing plumbing connections
- High-capacity, rapid-release manual air relief valve bleeds air with a quick quarter turn of the lever
Many people are changing to diatomaceous earth filters. These filters tend to have high efficiency, a great thing when it comes to wasting less water. If you are very particular about your water clarity, you will consider the diatomaceous earth or DE filters.
This particular Hayward model is known for its large capacity and durable construction. Even if you live in a climate that can be a bit harsh, this pool filter will have no issues handling the elements. The Hayward is a tamper proof model that will be easy to install yet very high quality.
- Hayward name and warranty standing behind the product
- Lower upkeep and maintenance costs compared to the filter cartridges
- DE pool filters do a great job of cleaning the water
- Large capacity makes it a higher-priced purchase
8. Best Cartridge Pool Filter: Hayward StarClear Cartridge Pool Filter, 50 Square Foot
- The Hayward StarClear 50-Square-Foot Cartridge Pool Filter offers extra cleaning capacity for crystal clear water
- Extra-large, single-element cartridge with new precision-engineered core and gasketed molded end caps provides extra strength and maximum flow
- Elevated filtered water collector with debris sump prevents accidental bypass of heavy debris to pool or spa when cartridge is removed for cleaning
- Injection-molded filter tank provides dependable, corrosion-free performance
- Attractive, durable filter head may be rotated to conveniently position pressure gauge and manual air relief
Don’t be alarmed if you see the Hayward name continually come up when it comes to pool filters. Whether you have an above-ground pool or an inground pool, the Hayward filters are known for doing a great job of cleaning pool water.
The Hayward Star Clear Cartridge is considered to be on the larger side. It has a debris sump that will help ensure that even when the cartridge is dirty, the debris will still be removed from the pool. Remember that cartridge filters need to have their cartridges replaced fairly often. Choosing a model like this will require some continued costs.
- Corrosion-free performance
- Durable filter head
- Gets pool water very clean
- Cartridge filters require frequent replacement
What Is a Pool Filter?
A pool filter is the part of your pool equipment responsible for removing dirt, debris, and bacteria from the water. A pool filter works in combination with your pump to keep the water circulating and clean. There are several types of pool filters available and they must be matched with the type of pool that you own. For pool owners with a smaller pool, a filter pump combination may be an option.
How Does A Pool Filter Work?
As we mentioned, the pool filter and pump work hand in hand. The pump is going to pull the water from the pool into the filter. The filter will then use filter media to help clean the water.
Depending on the type of filter owned (sand, cartridge, or DE filter), the water will come into the filter, go through the filter media and then return into the pool. Depending on the efficiency of your pool filter and the pump’s strength, all of the water will go through the filter during the run time of your pump and filter.
Types of Pool Filters
There are three main types of pool filters. When you are shopping for a new filter, you need to highly consider the types of pool filters available on the market. There is, unfortunately, no perfect pool filter choice. Each option has several positives and negatives associated with it. Let’s look at the three different types of pool filters that you should consider.
Cartridge Pool Filters
The cartridge filter is one of the most popular options for both large and small pools. If you are working with an extremely large hotel-sized pool, then cartridge pool filters are not always the best choice.
There will be a cartridge inside the filter that gets rinsed, cleaned, and eventually replaced every few months with a cartridge filter. The cartridge does a great job of removing both large and small particles from the water.
Generally speaking, cartridge pool filters are very easy to take care of. You simply remove the filter cartridge, rinse it and place it back in. You will spend a bit more on a cartridge pool filter when you first purchase it, but in the end, they are simpler for most new pool owners.
- Great choice for first-time pool owners
- Easy to clean and to manage
- Filter cartridges are typically not that expensive
- Cartridges do an excellent job at removing particles from the water
- Backwashing is not necessary
- Does not last as long as other pool filter options
- Can be more expensive than sand filters
- Cartridges sometimes need to be cleaned with muriatic acid
Sand Pool Filters
Sand pool filters are the cheapest of the three. This is a major reason why so many people purchase a sand filter. The sand filter is a large drum of sand that the water passes through, and the sand is used to clean the water.
The sand in your pool filter will need to be replaced every five years or so. This is not a huge project, but you will need to put in several hundred pounds of sand for larger sand filters. Sand pool filters are relatively easy to take care of, and you will simply need to backwash them every few weeks to remove any buildup inside.
The worst thing about the sand filters is that they are just not as effective at filtering out particles. The sand pool filters will have the lowest ability to remove small particles from the water. This could mean more water chemistry balance and more chemical usage for the pool owner. Many find that this is a fair compromise for the initial and ongoing costs of sand pool filters.
- Most affordable filter for pools
- Easy to maintain
- Has good longevity
- Sand needs to be replaced every five years or so
- Does not clean out very small particles
- Usually a built louder and less efficient when compared to other filters
DE Pool Filters
Last, but certainly not least are the premium DE pool filters. The reason we consider these to be premium is that they are going to have the highest initial cost. Diatomaceous Earth pool filters are expensive, yet they are the most effective at cleaning your pool water.
With a de pool filter, the DE filter media is much more capable of taking small microns and particles out of the water. If you have struggled with keeping your pool clean or keeping the pool’s water chemistry in check, the DE pool filter could make a significant difference for you.
The problem with the DE pool filter, aside from the cost, is the maintenance. The amount of maintenance is not much different than a sand or cartridge filter; it is just more difficult. DE is a substance you must be very careful with, and you will have to wear proper protective gear when adding it to your filter. This will need to be done at least once a year and potentially more.
In addition, there are local ordinances about DE and proper backwashing procedures. You may have to spend a bit of time each time you backwash your pool, ensuring that the DE does not pollute the water source. Check with your local environmental department before purchasing DE pool filters to ensure there are no regulations that you should be aware of.
- Very effective
- Highly efficient and usually quiet
- Allows for less use of chemicals because of how clean it keeps the water
- DE is difficult to work with
- Initial price of filter is high
- Could be backwashing regulations in your area
Considerations for Buying a Pool Filter
Now that you understand the different types and have some choices for the best pool filters on the market let’s look at some other things you should consider when buying a pool filter. Remember that the filter and the pump are two of the most expensive things you will purchase for your pool. Understanding how they work and the maintenance required on your part is essential.
Microns are a way that we can compare one filter to another. A micron is the size of the particle that a filter is capable of removing.
We like to think of microns as how effective your pool filter is. The lower the micron that it can pick up, the better the chance of your water staying clean. Essentially bacteria will be about 2 microns. A sand filter can usually filter at the 20-micron level. As you can see, sand filters are not picking up any of the bacteria.
This means that you must do quite a bit more to balance the water chemistry when you own a sand filter. DE filters are capable of picking up the smallest microns, but you, of course, have to pay the price for these higher-end units.
It is imperative to pay attention to the size of the filter. If you purchase a model that is too small for your particular pool, you will have continued issues trying to keep the water clean. Ensure that you know exactly how many gallons your pool is and the filter you choose matches according. The sand, cartridge, and DE filters are all available in different size models.
Depending on the type of pool filter that you purchase, the price is going to change considerably. Keep in mind that the sand will be the lowest, followed by the cartridge and the DE filters. Each of these filters has some long-term costs that need to be factored in as well. Consider the length of time you will own the unit to accurately represent the true cost you are paying.
Pump & Filter Choices
For some smaller pools, a filter pump option is the best choice. With a filter pump, you will get the pump and filter in one easy-to-use model. For larger pools, this will not work. The pool pump for larger swimming pools must be quite a bit larger to gain the same efficiency.
Before making your final purchase decision, make sure you consider how much maintenance the pool filter will need. You will be the one that has to take care of this unit and if you don’t have time to do backwashes or balance the water, choose something like the cartridge that is easy to rinse and move on.
Features to Look for in Pool Filters
The following are features that you should look for when purchasing a new pool filter. These are things you will want to consider before making your final purchase.
The pool filter can be quite loud. If you want to save your relationship with your neighbor, make sure you consider the noise output of a filter. The problem is that in addition to the noise from the pump, the noise from the filter can make it difficult to enjoy the pool. Most pool filters you purchase will give you some information about the amount of noise the pool filter gives off.
The more energy-efficient your pool filter is, the lower your electric bill will be. Considering things like the pool pump, pool vacuum, and even pool lights will add to your overall energy consumption, this is a factor to consider. You never want to have to choose to use the filter because of it using too much electricity.
Pool filters are left outside the majority of the time. They will be exposed to all elements, and it is essential to consider this when you purchase them. Look for a durable and weatherproof outer housing on the pool filter. You will need this to make sure that it can hold up for several years.
How to Clean Pool Filter
The way that you clean your pool filter will vary depending on the type of pool filter that you own. Luckily there are a few products that will make this process a bit easier. Here are some tips for how to clean each type of pool filter.
Sand Pool Filter Cleaning
- Extends filter media life
- Added directly to skimmer
- Safe for use with all sand filters
- Concentrated formula removes oils, non-living organic contaminants and mineral accumulation
With a sand pool filter, you will first want to backwash the filter. This allows for an initial cleaning and removal of any debris. Then you can use a pool filter cleaner to make sure that the inside of the filter is getting the proper rinse down and maintenance.
When you use a sand pool filter cleaner, you will want to backwash again immediately following the product’s use. After backwashing the second time, allow your filter some time to run. Always follow the recommended dosage on the filter cleaner. If you have a smaller sand filter, you may not need the entire bottle.
DE Pool Filter Cleaning
- BENEFITS: Clears out all the gunk that the swimming pool filter catches so that it can continue to run correctly and keep your water ready for fun all season long
- USE: Apply in the evening and allow to work overnight
- COMPATIBILITY: Great for all types of pool filters including cartridges, D.E. and sand filters; for all pool types including saltwater systems
- FEATURES: Helps filtrations system to work more efficiently and last longer
The DE pool filter should be cleaned about once every six months. The problem with cleaning these filters is that the DE can be a bit dangerous and needs to be handled with care. Make sure that you follow all manufacturer’s recommendations when working with a DE pool filter.
The good news is that you can use a pool filter cleaner with a DE pool filter, similar to how you do with a sand filter. After cleaning out your DE pool filter, you will need to replace the DE. During this process, it is smart to wear a mask.
Cartridge Pool Filter Cleaning
- Cleans pleated spa/pool filter cartridges
- Professional strength with enzymes
The cartridge pool filters are the easiest to clean. You will simply remove the cartridge and make sure that you rinse it thoroughly. If the cartridge is very dirty, you can soak it in muriatic acid or a cartridge cleaner.
The cartridge pool filters are easy to take apart and easy to put back together. When you remove the cartridge, make sure you take a look at the O Ring and that it is in good shape. There are times that you will need to replace that to make sure the cartridge filter functions correctly.
Troubleshooting Your Pool Filter
Unfortunately, pool filters tend to have issues that come up. This is the part of your pool equipment system that truly works the hardest. Therefore some wear and tear can occur, and you will notice issues with your filter over time. Here are a few tips to help you with some common troubleshooting issues that come up with pool filters.
It’s important to check on the pressure in your filter quite often. Sometimes there could be a blockage in the line or build-up that needs to be taken care of. If the pressure gets too high, it could be bad for the filter and the pump.
If you notice continual water pressure issues, make sure that the pump is big enough to support the pool filter you are using.
Pool filters tend to leak from time to time. Most leaks mean a new bolt or o ring is necessary. This is usually a simple fix and will not impact the long-term use and functionality of your filter. Always keep an eye out for small leaks around a pool filter; they are generally quite slow and could be difficult to pick up on initially.
Sand or DE in the Pool
If you notice that you have some sand or DE in your pool, it could be because you just backwashed. This is normal and will come up with the vacuum or by filtering the water. However, if you notice this happening continually, chances are there is another issue. There could be a rip in your DE filter material, or one of the bolts on your sand filter maybe lose. This will require a bit of investigation, but it usually ends up being a simple fix.
If your filter does not seem capable of cleaning the pool like it once was, make sure that it does not need to be cleaned. Pool filters need to be cleaned, cartridges need to be replaced, and sand and DE eventually need to be replaced as well. If you notice decreased capacity, chances are the filter is overdue for a cleaning.
Pool Filter FAQ
Can I Use My Pool Without a Filter?
If you are having an issue with your pool filter and a replacement is on the way, it is fine to use your pool still. Ensure that all of the pool water chemistry is correct, and then make your decision based on that.
If you are considering owning a pool and not using a filter at all, this is a bad idea. All of the chemicals needed to keep a pool looking good need to be dispersed and moved through the water. Without a pool filter in place, this is not possible. It will be nearly impossible to keep your pool from getting issues with bacteria and algae.
Which Type of Pool Filter Is Best?
Depending on the type of pool you have, your budget, and your need for cleanliness, there are different types of pool filters that could suit your needs. Generally speaking, the DE pool filters are best for when you are looking to get your pool water crystal clear. The downside to the DE is going to be the maintenance involved. However, if you want the best filter for clearing debris from the water, this is the one to choose.
How Much Does a Pool Filter Cost?
Pool filters will vary in cost based on your pool’s size and the type of filter you choose. You can get something as low as $150 up to over $1000. The filter you choose must be big enough to support your pool and to clean the water properly.
How Do I Know What Size Pool Filter I Need?
The size of the filter will be based on the size of your pool. In order to determine the size of the pool filter that you need, you must first know how many gallons that your pool is made up of.
As a general example, if your pool is about 20,000 gallons, these are the sizes of filters that you would need.
- Cartridge (300-400 sq ft)
- Sand (3.9 Sq Ft)
- DE (48 Sq Ft)
When Should I Clean My Pool Filter?
Pool filters should be cleaned regularly. It is best to clean your filters every few weeks as this gives you a good indication if they need to be replaced. Pool filters that are cleaned more often are going to last longer as well. You will also see that your pump flow rates in your pool will be much stronger when the filter is clean. If you see that your pump flow rates are down, try cleaning the filter to see if it has an impact.
Can You Clean and Reuse Pool Filters?
Yes, although this is not recommended for many types of cartridge filters, there are times that you can clean the filter and realize that it is still doing a great job of helping to keep the pool clean. The cartridge filters are going to need to be replaced after time, but if you can get a few more weeks or months out of them by washing them and reusing them, we highly recommend it.
How Often Should Pool Filters Be Changed?
Your entire filter will likely need to be changed about every five years. Of course, if you live in an area where your pool is running 365 days a year, you may need to replace the filter a bit more often. If you purchase a high-end filter and you take great care of it, chances are you could get closer to seven years without having to replace the entire filter.
How Long Should You Run a Pool Filter?
It is generally recommended to run a filter for about 8 hours a day. If you have a pump that can run on both high and low, you may run for 12 hours a day and adjust the pump’s variable speeds. Less than 8 hours a day can cause issues with algae and bacteria growing in the water. Essentially the more time that your pool water is left idle, the greater the chance of the pool water having issues.
Can I Leave My Pool Filter on All Night?
You can leave your pool filter on all night, especially when you have just recently shocked your pool. The shock needs the filter to stay on so that it can properly dissipate through the water. Generally speaking, you would want to leave your swimming pool filter on during the hours where it is exposed to the most sun. The sun baking the still water in the pool can lead to water chemistry issues.
How Many Hours a Day Should I Run My Pool Filter?
Eight hours is a good estimate for swimming pool owners that are unsure how long to run their filter. This should give enough circulation in the water to remove particles and keep the pool algae free. As always, you should be paying close attention to the filter systems and the water chemistry. If, for some reason, eight hours is not enough, you should adjust the equipment accordingly. In the summer months, it can make sense to have filters running for 10 or more hours.
Recap: The Best Pool Filters for Your Home
Hopefully, our suggestions and detailed buyers guide have helped you decide on a pool filter product. Since you have to choose the type of filter in addition to the size and brand, there are lots of decisions to be made. Luckily you can’t go wrong with the Hayward brand products that we recommend. If you have a large inground pool that needs a high-quality system, Hayward is a great choice.
For those with smaller pools that need a filter pump type option, the Intex choices on our list are a very smart purchase. Remember, you will have your filter in place for several years, and you must choose something that will work with your pool maintenance routine.
Pricing on this page was last updated on 2021-04-13