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When you consider owning a pool, you are agreeing to do all things possible to make sure it stays clean and clear at all times, and the only way to ensure that level of cleanliness is with the help of a pool filter.
To choose the best pool filter for yourself, you would need to understand the three basic types of pool filters available; the sand filter, cartridge pool filter, and the DE filter, as well as knowing which of these pool filters is most suitable for the above ground pool, for an inground pool, and a small pool, and other requirements.
If all these terms have gotten you confused, worry not as we are here to help you understand and figure it all out so that at the end of the day you can choose the best pool filter that perfectly fits your needs.
How Does a Pool Filter System Work?
Like any pool owner who has no idea of how these gadgets function and make our lives easier, well here is a simple explanation of the entire process through which a pool filter system works.
A pool filter system works hand in hand with a pool pump or filter pump and it’s designed to circulate water through the pump to the filter. This process when broken down means that with the help of the pool pump water is transferred into the pool filter where the water is purified from any form of dirt, debris, oils, algae, and so on, and once the water is clean, it is returned to the pool clean and clear.
This process of purification of the pool water is what is known as the filtration system.
To fully understand how the filter works, you need to know the parts of your pool filter or the filter elements which include the spinning impeller or filter pump designed to pull water into the filter from the pool, then there’s the strainer pot which acts as the strainer and catches any major debris from the water, then we have the filter itself which of course, filters any remaining debris in the water before recirculating the now clean water back into the pool.
This process is a continuous process that goes on and on within the pool to ensure that your pool is constantly clean, and it’s why the larger the pump the better it works to clean a larger quantity of water at once.
In general, there are three main types of pool filters designed for inground pools, for salt water pools, and so on. There are the sand filters, the cartridge pool filters, and the Diatomaceous Earth filters or DE pool filters.
Pool Filter Types
Sand pool filters are considered the smallest and oldest in the filtering business, and their popularity is quite high with older pools that often spot sand filter systems as these are much cheaper compared to the others.
The mechanism behind the sand filter is simple. The filter consists of a filter tank with the lower part filled up to about 75% of a special kind of filter sand while the remaining 25% of the tank is left free. To function, the tank fills up with water from the pool and as it does so, the water passes through the sand which filters out as much dirt and debris as possible before while the clean, filtered water is pushed back into the pool.
In terms of sand filtration, it is important to know that while filtering water from the pool, the sand filter is always set on filter mode, but to clean the accumulated debris and dirt caught by the sand over time, the filter is set on backwash mode.
For proper functionality of the sand filter, it is advised to replace the sand inside every 5-8 years depending on how often the filter is used. Sand filters are the best pool filters for small pools as the rate at which they filter debris (about 20-40) microns is considered slow hence, they cannot take on large volumes of water at once.
- Cheapest filter system available
- Perfect for small pools
- Easy maintenance
- Simple usage
- Slow cleaning process
- Not suitable for larger pools
Tips for using
If you wish to consider a sand filter for your pool, ensure the pool is not one that is often used as the cleaning process with sand filters is much slower. Also, make sure that the cleaning is done often as the more cloudy the water is the more difficult it is to clean, and the longer it takes.
The cartridge filter is considered the most popular type of filter to use as it is an environmentally-friendly option, and it comes with varieties like single element cartridge filters and multi-element cartridge filters which often contain two to four cartridges.
The cartridge filter tanks are generally made from spun polyester pleated and wrapped around a heavy plastic or PVC core. Each cartridge is then bound on each end with a heavy-duty rubbery plastic to connect them all together.
The functionality of a cartridge filter system involves the cartridge trapping the debris and other particles within it as the water flows through the cartridge. While the debris remains trapped within the pleats of the cartridge, the clean water passes out of it.
Due to its large surface area, a cartridge filter is a good choice for inground pools and above-ground pools, as it is easy maintenance and functions fast. Aside from ridding the cartridge of dirt, it should also be de-greased due to the build-up of body oils, suntan oils, and hair products.
Averagely, this type of cartridge should be changed between 2-4 years for optimum functionality.
- Captures as little as 10-15 microns
- Best fit for small to medium-sized pools
- Lower energy consumption
- Available in various sizes and element numbers
- Fast cleaning process
- Not suitable for large pools
- High maintenance
Tips for Using
Cartridge pool filters are great choices for spas and above-ground pools as they clean faster and catch more tiny particles compared to the sand filter. To enjoy its functionality, constant maintenance when due would give you a longer life span.
Diatomaceous Earth filter or DE filter is one designed almost like the sand filter and is a much more modern form of pool filter.
Unlike the sand filter that contains sand, the Diatomaceous Earth filter contains a set of grids or fingers made of a cloth mesh-like material that is coated with a DE powder. The Diatomaceous Earth powder is made from crushed seashells and the external silica secretions of little microscopic sea creatures called diatoms, hence the name Diatomaceous Earth.
In terms of functionality, the fingers or grips trap debris, dirt, and oil as the water runs through them expelling cleaner and clear water into the pool. A DE pool filter has the capacity to trap smaller and finer particles allowing it to filter particles faster, thereby expelling clear water.
As it is very much like sand filters, a DE filter needs to be backwashed to rid it of its dirt. But after backwashing, the DE content needs to be replenished by adding more DE powder.
Due to its high-level functionality, the DE filter should be taken apart annually for backwashing and de-greasing for effective functionality.
- Perfect for water clarification
- Good choice for large and commercial pools
- Fast cleaning and screening capacity
- Requires more careful maintenance
- Most expensive of all filter types
Tips for Using
DE filters are considered the most efficient types of filters so they are great choices for larger and commercial pool types, but maintenance can be a bit of a hassle for users hence those who wish to consider it should also factor in the time necessary for maintenance.
Best Pool Filter: The 6 Top Pick Product Reviews
1. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump 10-inch for Above Ground Pools
One of the best sand pool filters available in the market is the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump. Perfect for an above-ground pool, this product is designed as the name implies to give you Krystal clear pool waters all day long.
Designed and built to conveniently clean your pool, this sand filter is 15 X 13.63 X 20.5 inches (Length x Weight x Height) respectively and weighs a total of 22.8 pounds.
In terms of design, the model features a 6-function control valve designed to filter, backwash, and rinse, recirculate, drain and close the filtration system all at once.
As a perfect product for above-ground pools, the model generates a powerful pump flow rate of 1,200 gallons per hour with a system flow rate of 1,050 gallons per hour and functions adequately with a filter capacity of 2,800 gallons minimum and 8,400 gallons maximum.
For proper functionality, there is an in-built 24-hour timer and a safety shut-off that makes the pool maintenance experience hassle-free, and in addition to that, the strainer basket provides an easy-cleaning capacity which also helps to prolong the life of the sand.
The product is effective in performance and also in the cost of purchase and maintenance, making it ideal for families and businesses alike.
The sand filter includes a 6-way valve, pressure gauge, a heavy-duty 10 inches tank, a strainer basket, a built-in timer, a built-in Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, and a powerful motor.
- Offers 6-way valve functionality
- Features a 24-hour timer and a safety shut-off
- Easy cleaning with strainer basket
- Built-in GFCI
- Proffer Crystal clear water to the pool
- 5-year sand life-span
- Only suitable for small pools
- The air release valve could easily malfunction or break
2. Hayward S244T ProSeries 24-Inch, Top-Mount Sand Filter
Hayward S244T ProSeries is another of the highly recognized sand filters available in the market. Thanks to its tough tank build the model is a top-mount sand filter, great fit for inground pools, and perfect to give your pool water that clarity and debris-free capacity it so needs.
The Hayward Filter is designed with a 24-inch weatherproof tank built from durable and fade-free polymer material weighing a total of 48 pounds.
Like any other sand filter designed to be effective, the product dons a 6-position multiport valve featuring an easy-to-use lever action for effective functionality. The model also features a unique 7-way valve position designed for filter, waste, winter, closed, backwash, recirculation, and rinse.
For optimum functionality, the pool filter is characterized by an integral top diffuser, self-cleaning underdrain with 360 degree slotted laterals that allow for even water distribution all through the filter tank. The product also features a full-flow technology that reduces energy cost making it energy efficient while still offering top-notch filtration.
The sand pool filter includes a tank, 7-way multi-port valve, sight glass, and a pool filter pressure gauge
- Presence of a large pressure drain for winterizing/servicing
- Designed for easy backwashing
- Offers 7-position valve functionality
- Built with a durable weather-proof material
- Energy efficient
- Features self-cleaning laterals
- Sand is purchased separately
- Not so easy to use
3. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools
The Intex line also comes available for those who prefer to use a cartridge pool filter to clean their pool water. The Intex Filter Cartridge Pump is a unique model available in 1,000 gallons per hour pump flow Rates, 1,500 and 2,500 gallons per hour pump flow rates, but our current product is of 1,000GPH pump flow rates suitable for Intex pools.
The item is a 10.62 x 10.62 x 15 inches (Length x Weight x Height) full cartridge filter with a plastic tank that weighs an overall 6.8 pounds weight.
The Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump is designed for easy installation with a unique hydro aeration technology that allows for improved water clarity, improved circulation, and filtration, and also increased release and presence of negative ions at the water surface to improve the air freshness around the pool.
It also features an air-release valve for air trapped inside the filter chamber and includes an easy-to-clean replaceable filter cartridge.
In terms of capacity, the maximum pool size that the model can handle is 6,000 gallons while its minimum is 700 gallons, making it perfect for small pools and above-ground pools.
- Cheap and affordable
- Simple installation
- Has hydro aeration technology inlet fitting
- Easy usage
- Features GFCI
- The cartridge needs to be changed every 2 weeks
- Time frame usage of 8 hours
4. Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter
The Pentair 16031 Clean & Clear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter is one of the top-rated pool filters available in the market and there are many reasons why this is so. The model is a cartridge filter that offers a whopping 420 square feet of filtration media fit for pools and spas alike.
The product measures 22-inch length by 45-inch height by 22.5-inch width made from fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene and weighing a total of 75 pounds.
Unlike many swimming pool filters, the design is an injection-molded tank with black bulkhead unions that sports a large filter area which allows for an increased dirt capacity as well as a 1.5-inch and 100% drain clean-out port.
Plus it consists of a continuous high flow internal air relief and high flow manual air relief valve for higher functionality. Also, Pentair 160301 possesses a balanced hydraulic flow and tension control clamp with the capability of cleaning a total of 72,000 gallons of water over a space of 8 hours.
To make the Pentair model last longer, it is advised to have the cartridge cleaned every 2-3 months.
- Easy drain release
- Powerful range with 420 square feet filtration area
- Built with durable materials
- Large filtering capacity
- The model comes with the required filter
- Bi-monthly removal and cleaning for longevity
5. Hayward W3DE6020 ProGrid Diatomaceous Earth Pool Filter
The Hayward W3DE6020 is a uniquely designed D. E pool filter that offers a 60 square foot filtration media that measures 23.1 x 24.6 x 47.8 inches (Length x Weight x Height) with a total weight of 83 pounds that promises and offers superior performance, efficiency, and water clarity.
To offer all these, the mode is made from durable glass-reinforced copolymer construction which is corrosion-free and ensures durability in the face of tough weather.
Furthermore, Hayward W3DE6020 features high-impact grid elements that provide up-flow filtration and top-down backwashing for maximum efficiency, plus it has a high capacity rapid release manual air relief valve that speeds up air expulsion by the turn of the lever.
Asides from all these, the product features an easy-access tamper-proof one-piece flange clamp assembly to easily fasten the tank top and bottom together. And in terms of flow rate, it is capable of a 120 gallons per minute flow rate.
- Rapid release manual air relief
- Heavy-duty clamp to securely fasten the tank
- Powerful for a 60 square foot filtration capacity
- Superb up-flow filtration and top-down backwashing capacity
- Easy servicing
- Valve is purchased separately
- Caution when handling the DE powder
6. Hayward W3EC40C92S Perflex 1 HP Diatomaceous Earth Filter Pump System for Above-Ground Pools
Like the above-mentioned model, the W3EC40C92S is quite similar to its predecessor but just as highly functional. Designed for an above-ground pool the product features a 25.9 x 16.4 x 28.9 inches heavy-duty injection-molded filter tank that weighs 63 pounds with assured resistance to weather and corrosion.
The product offers a flex-tube design that in combination with the DE filter produces the cleanest possible water for your swimming pool.
In addition to that, the model features a unique bump mechanism for instant and uniform cleaning of the DE flex tubes and the DE filter media. Plus, it assures users of a fast cleaning action of the tiniest particles as small as two microns.
- Fast cleaning capacity
- Corrosion-free construction
- Flex-tube design for longer cleaning cycles
- Bump mechanism for uniform flex tube cleaning
- Caution when handling the DE powder
- A constant need to add more filtration media after every clean
What should a pool filter pressure be?
Keeping in mind that the pressure level for filtration systems is determined by several factors such as the size of filter pumps, swimming pool size, and condition of the swimming pool water, it’s obvious that it’s hard to have an average pool system pressure.
To completely determine the optimum pressure pay attention to the first installation of the filter media as the number on the gauge at first installation is the new baseline pressure and also the psi number got after the first cleaning of the filter. The two numbers determine the optimum pressure level. But on a general note, the pressure range between 5 – 15 psi and 10 – 25 psi is great to work with.
How often should my pool filter run?
For effective cleaning of the pool, pool owners are advised to run their pool filters on an average of 8 hours daily for proper circulation and cleaner water.
But to accurately determine the time frame to run your pool pump, you need to determine the pool volume and the turnover rate. Once you have that you can optimally run your pool filters based on the necessary hours.
Do pool filters use a lot of electricity?
The answer to this question is varied as the electricity consumption of a pool filter depends on the size of the pump, and the number of pumps being used. While a single pump filter might take longer and consume more energy, a double insulated pump for instance would work faster with lesser energy consumption.
Thankfully, the technology most pool filters are made with today is for energy saving, and many of these pumps come designed to be energy efficient while functioning optimally.
When should you backwash your pool filter?
As we all know now that backwashing means clearing the filter from accumulated dirt and debris, and that the process allows for more effective functionality, knowing when to do so is highly important.
The perfect time to backwash your pool sand filters, cartridge, and DE pool filters is once a week, when the filter’s pressure gauge reads 8-10 psi, after a major storm or foliage drop, and in the case of DE filters, a minimum of 6 times per year, while a pool sand filter could be monthly.
Buying Guide: How to Choose The Best Pool Filter?
As elaborately discussed earlier in this article, there are 3 basic types of pool filters available for pool maintenance which include the pool sand filter, the cartridge filter, and the DE filter.
As pool owners, understanding the difference between each pool filter is important as this will guide you to know which is most suitable for your needs. Remember that while some pool filters are perfect for saltwater, for well water, and for stock tank pool, others don’t work better for dog hair, for inground pool, for above ground pool, and for Intex pool.
Keep in mind that the volume of the pool, the total square feet of the pool, the power of the pump, as well as the level of pollution often available in the pool will affect the size of your pool filter, you need to critically analyze the pool dimension to ensure that the filter functions optimally.
A pool filter too small compared to the overall square feet of the pool could lead to the breakdown of the filter while one too big compared to the square feet of the pool could lead to excessive power consumption.
Finding the optimum filter dimension which is at the same level or slightly higher than your pool pump and water capacity, therefore, is a must.
Your pocket size also matters a lot when considering the best pool filters available. While a DE pool filter is often known to be more expensive, a pool sand filter or cartridge filter is known to come with a lesser price tag.
In as much as you would desire a more modern filter head like the DE pool filter, keep in mind that the higher the number of features available on the filter head, the higher the price tag.
As pool owners, be it for commercial or personal purposes, the pool filter is considered as prime and indispensable pool equipment that aids in the maintenance of the pool to ultimately keep your pool clean.
That is why this article was aimed at helping you recognize the best pool filters available in the market so that you can duly choose the best fit for your pool.