These Pool Filters Keep Your Water Clean, Clear, and Ready for Swimming
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A backyard pool is a great way to relax alone or socialize with friends and family, but they do require some work to keep them clean. Whether you have an in- or above-ground pool, a reliable and properly maintained filter is essential in keeping its water crystal-clear. Because, after all, no one wants to swim in a dirty pool. (And, if you want to be proactive about keeping out larger items like leaves and bugs out, buy a pool cover and a pool vacuum.)
Pool filters work with your pool’s pump to circulate water and capture microscopic dirt and debris, and just like pools themselves, they’re available in a wide selection of styles and sizes. They can also use different types of media to get the job done (cartridge, sand, and diatomaceous earth), so it can be overwhelming to find the best option for you and your pool. To help narrow down your search, we researched and vetted the best pool filters out there, and also included a run-down of what to consider when purchasing.
In the market for fun pool accessories? Check out our stories on the best pool ladders, pool floats, and pool toys. Plus, learn how to DIY a stock tank pool.
Best Pool Filters
What to Consider
The most important thing to determine when choosing a pool filter is whether or not it’s effective for your pool size. Luckily, this is fairly easy to calculate—your filter should turn over the pool’s volume every eight to ten hours.
Take your pool’s volume in gallons and divide it by ten to determine how many gallons you need to filter per hour. For some filters, you’ll need to divide this number by 60 to find the required flow rate in gallons per minute.
For instance, if your pool is 5,000 gallons, you’ll need a 500 GPH or 8.3 GPM pool filter. We recommend erring on the larger side, so you don’t end up with a filter that maxes out at your pool’s capacity. Plus, a larger filter means less frequent cleaning, saving you time and effort.
The three types of pool filter media are cartridge, sand, and diatomaceous earth, or DE. Cartridge filters trap and collect debris as it passes through the cartridge, which you can spray clean with a garden hose. This type uses less water overall compared to DE and sand filters.
Sand filters run pool water through a reservoir of sand to trap and contain dirt and debris, and although they’re usually the least expensive, they don’t trap the ultra-small particles that cartridge and DE filters do. DE filters work the same way as sand filters, but since DE is finer than sand, it traps the smallest particles of all. These are usually the most expensive, but if you want to make sure your pool water is as clean as possible, they’re worth the investment.
Most residential pool-owners prefer to filter their pools overnight to avoid the noise while swimming. You can turn your filter on and off manually, unplug it from its power source, or use a timer—best for smaller filters that require less power—to set it automatically.
How We Selected
We evaluated the filters in this collection based on comprehensive online research and comparisons that prioritized filter efficacy, ease of use, price, and durability. This included researching the options, analyzing customer reviews, and combing through popular brands to find their most reliable, durable products. We did our best to include a variety of filter types and sizes, so regardless of your pool size or filter needs, you can find the ideal option for your setup.
SwimClear Pool Filter
If you’re looking for an easy-to-maintain filter for your in-ground pool, this cartridge pool filter is one of the top choices. This side-mount cartridge filter works in pools up to 27,000 gallons, with larger and smaller options available.
The filter uses heavy-duty cartridges that hold more dirt and deliver extra-long filter cycles compared to lighter filters, which eliminates the need for backwashing (a.k.a., reversing the flow of water to clear a filter).
This Hayward model has a single-piece flange clamp that holds its top and bottom together, but it’s easy to remove when you need to change the inner cartridges.
Flow Clear 1500 Pool Filter Pump
For those with small pools, the Bestway Flow Clear Pool Filter is an extremely affordable option to keep the water clean. It’s designed to be used with above-ground pools between 300 and 8,400 gallons and it has a flow rate of 1,500 gallons per hour.
Dirt and debris gets stuck in the cartridge as water passes through the filter, and the water is pushed back into the pool with the double-insulated motor pump. The simple design comes with two connection hoses, clamps, and a filter cartridge, and while it requires little maintenance, keep in mind that you’ll need to clean or change the cartridge every two weeks.
ProSeries Sand Pool Filter
This sand-based filter boasts a flow rate high enough for most in-ground pools, and with a corrosion-proof tank, it’s designed for maximum durability. A six-position control valve allows you to select the precise function you want, and the top-mounted lever-action handle is comfortable for anyone to use.
We’re also big fans of the large drain outlet, which ensures that when it’s time for winterizing or servicing, you won’t waste time emptying it out. You will need to supply your own sand, though, so keep that in mind.
ProGrid DE Pool Filter
It’s not cheap, but if you want to ensure that your in-ground pool is as clean and clear as it can possibly be, this diatomaceous earth filter from Hayward is a great choice.
Its copolymer construction is durable enough to stand up the elements, and the straightforward clamp assembly makes it easy to gain access when it’s time for maintenance. Plus, the low-profile shape and a pair of lift handles make it easy to open up.
The convenient pressure gauge not only tells you the current pressure, but also lets you know when it’s time to backwash and clean the filter.
Krystal Clear Cartridge Pool Filter Pump
If you have a small above-ground pool, the low price and compact size of this Intex pump is a great fit. It’s simple to maintain, too—just replace the filter every couple of weeks.
The built-in timer makes it easy to set automatic increments for how often to filter the water, and a convenient air release valve lets you easily get rid of any trapped air inside. The included hoses are 1.25 inches, so keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase a separate adapter if you have 1.5-inch connections.
Krystal Clear Sand Pool Filter
This Intex sand filter is powerful enough to handle above-ground pools up to 12,800 gallons while still remaining relatively low on the price spectrum. You can easily choose from the six functions—filter, backwash, rinse, recirculate, drain, and close system—with the large control handle, and a color-coded gauge makes it easy to keep an eye on the current pressure.
An automatic timer powers the pump on and off each day, and you can set the operating interval you prefer—up to 12 hours. Its low weight of 22.8 pounds also makes it relatively easy to transport and position into place.
Perflex DE Pool Filter
DE filters aren’t just for large-capacity pools, and this Hayward model is a perfect choice for those with small above-ground pools. Plus, it’s significantly cheaper than other DE options. It works quickly, and can remove particles as small as two microns in size.
An oversized, ergonomic handle makes it easy to maintain and service, and the efficient design means that there’s no backwashing needed. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to supply the five pounds of diatomaceous earth to get started.
Radiant Sand Pool Filter System
The Rx Clear Radiant Sand Filter will keep water clean and fresh in in-ground pools up to 33,000 gallons. It has an extremely high flow rate of up to 3,000 gallons per hour, and it filters out sediment and debris using 300 pounds of silica sand.
Alternatively, you can use luster media in this filter, which requires less backwashing and decreases the chances of clogs. This filter has a six-way valve, pressure gauge, and drain plug, and it comes with 1.5-inch threaded connections and a compatible filter base.
The tank itself is one solid blow-molded piece, and it’s backed by a three-year warranty from the brand. The drawback is that the connection hoses aren't included.
Sand Filter Combo Set Pool Filter
The Hydrotools by Swimline Sand Filter, which is designed for above-ground pools, includes a 0.43 HP pump, making it a great all-in-one option for those who need a whole new system. It has a high-capacity tank that uses 60 pounds of sand to filter out dirt and debris, and it can be used with pools up to 10,500 gallons thanks to its flow rate of 2,400 gallons per hour.
The filter has an extra-large strainer basket that will capture large debris, and the system comes with a four-way valve, pressure gauge, and drain valve. The pump is designed to keep noise to a minimum during operation, and the system even includes two filter connection hoses.
Cartridge Pool Filter System
Homeowners with smaller pools–less than 15,000 gallons–will appreciate the user friendly design and affordable price of this cartridge filter. The top-loading lid is simple to unlatch and unscrew, and also features a pressure gauge and release valve to vent any built-up air pressure. The non-woven construction of the cartridge–in addition to its large size–makes them especially effective, allowing for maximum water flow as well as clarity. If you’d prefer to use this filter type for a larger pool, this filter is also available in two additional sizes.
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