UPDATED: FEB 5, 2020.
In the U.S alone, more than 8.5 million people own a swimming pool, and as you’re among them, it is important to take steps to keep your pool water clean. You can use all the chemicals you want, but it still pays to install a good above-ground pool filter.
What is the best above ground pool filter, you may ask? Let’s find out more now!
Top 9 Above-Ground Pool Filters to Buy
You can certainly find many impressive options, but the best above-ground filter systems are easy to maintain, affordable, and impressive in terms of functionality. Here are some of the best for you to make a choice.
1. Intex Krystal Sand Filter Pump
With a flow rate of 1200GPH, you’re less likely to face any issue when opting for this above-ground pool filter. For your standard pool, it works like a charm and finishes the task within minutes.
It performs quite impressively, thanks to as many as six function controls. It allows you to backwash, filter, re-circulate, rinse, drain, and close system. The availability of 24-hour automatic timer means you don’t have to activate it all the time.
Another good thing is the use of hydro aeration technology, which means you will experience improved filtration and circulation. Overall, it is a reasonably good sand filter, but do keep in mind that filter media (sand) is not included in the package.
- Automatic timer for the ease of use
- An impressive system flow rate of up to 1,050GPH
- Easy cleaning because of the strainer basket
- Filter media not included
2. Intex Krystal Cartridge Filter
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use above-ground cartridge filter, you may want to put your money on this model form Intex. This double insulated pump makes it super simple to replace the cartridge.
You don’t need to worry about the filter delivering less than impressive performance due to air trapped inside the chamber. You can manage it easily with the help of the air release valve. Still, it is a good idea to avoid using the pump for more than 8 hours a day.
Along with the air release valve, you will also find the sediment flush valve, which works fine with pools up to 6,000 gallons. However, you will have to use it with a 32mm hose fitting. It comes with 1,000GPH of flow rate, so smaller pools may get run through up to two times an hour.
Overall, it is a reasonably good option for most pool owners, but do keep in mind that the fitment will require some adaptation. Once you make it adapt your hose size, it works quite impressively.
- Easily replaceable cartridge
- Double insulated pump for better performance
- No air trapped inside the chamber because of air release valve
- The fitting may take long
3. Intex 28633EG Krystal Cartridge Filter
Other than the relatively high price – not that high considering the performance – you’re not going to find so many flaws in this filter. This double insulated pump is designed to help you have clear water in less time.
The pump flow rate is impressive and is up to 2,500 GPH. What it means is that even if you have a medium-sized pool, the filter can clean it in no more than 30 minutes. For smaller pools, it works quickly and can actually make your pool look more like a Jacuzzi – an added benefit for sure!
- Double insulate pump for long-lasting performance
- An excellent pump flow rate of 2,500 GPH
- Easy installation and quick results
- A bit on the pricier side
4. Hayward W3S166T Sand Filter
Hayward has produced some very impressive sand filters over the years and this above-ground pool filter is no different. By using the latest filter technology, it works quite effectively to clean your pool.
It lasts long because of its unitized tank construction. The use of reinforced thermoplastic also ensures that the filter keeps working fine for long. You will need 100lbs of sand to keep it functioning properly though.
Plumbing is a breeze because of the flange clamp design of this pool filter. The only issue some people have pinpointed is the weaker seam by the neck. If you use it carefully, you’re less likely to face any issue here. Overall, a reasonably good buy!
- An easy to install sand filter
- Not hard to maintain
- Flange clamp design for easy plumbing
- The seam by the neck is not that strong
5. Hayward EC40AC Perflex D.E. Filter
This basic modular filter is extended-cycle DE filter designed to clean pool water without needing any backwashing. It attracts many buyers who are against wasting water.
It relies on a patented flex-tube design, which means you will enjoy longer cycles between cleaning. You don’t need to change the media often, which is another blessing.
The installation may take a while though because it is different for those who have used units with discharge function. But, you can manage it by using the correct hose barbs, PVC unions and flex hose. The only issue you may face is that it is a bit messy when cleaned.
- Efficiently removes small particles of two microns
- Uniform clarity with unique bump mechanism
- No backwash or water wasted
- Maybe a bit messy when cleaned
6. Hayward W3S220T
This Hayward filter offers a superior water flow and is suitable for a pool larger than 17,000 gallons. Quite interestingly, it keeps delivering optimum performance without needing a backwash for two months. Backwashing won’t take longer than 5 minutes.
Installation is not going to be a big issue, considering the fact that it comes with a flange clamp design allowing 360 degrees valve rotation. This sand filter is equipped with full-size internal piping, which means you will experience free-flowing performance.
Speaking of performance, it is easy to use different filter functions for improved performance, thanks to its 7-position control valve. Moreover, the tank is made of reinforced thermoplastic to last long.
Overall, it is one of the finer sand pool filters available in the market, but keep in mind that some people say that the polymer on the tank is not of the highest quality. Just use it with care and you won’t have an issue.
- Unitized filter tank for all-weather performance
- No issue pertaining to corrosion
- Easy use of filter functions through 7-position valve
- The polymer on the tank could be of better quality
7. Summer Waves SFX Filter
Available in four different capacities – 330, 600, 1000, and 1500 gallons – you can opt for the one that suits your pool. It works quite impressively for Active Frame Pools from Summer Waves.
Something that sets it apart from other filters in the market is that it offers a unique combination of a filter pump and a skimmer. The use of impressive skimming technology helps remove debris from the surface of the water.
Another good thing is that you can easily attach it to the sidewalls of your pool. It allows for better maintenance and goes a long way in preventing tripping. Overall, it is a good buy, but do notice that the small ceramic pin in the pump tends to break easily. You can replace it easily though.
- Available in different capacities
- Impressive skimming technology for better clarity
- Easy maintenance
- The small ceramic pin may break easily
8. Sand Master Soft-Sided Filter System
If your pool is no larger than 9,600 gallons, you may want to put your money on this soft-sided above-ground filter. With a flow rate of 20GPM, it is capable of cleaning your pool water in a short time.
For better performance, it comes equipped with a 4-position multiport valve. This 115V filter pump is housed in a corrosion-proof tank. It can hold 42lbs of sand, so you don’t have to change the media often.
Overall, the filter works quite impressively and is durable too. However, some users have complained about some tricky directions. Moreover, you’d need pipe lubricant while installation, which is not included in the package.
- Quite suitable for smaller pools
- Corrosion proof tank
- 1-year warranty
- Directions could’ve been better
9. GoPlus 2450GPH Sand Filter
In terms of performance, this GoPlus sand filter won’t disappoint you, mainly because of its copper motor. With this motor, it manages to work at a flow rate of 2450 GPH, which makes it suitable for a pool as large as 10, 000 gallons.
The durability won’t be an issue, thanks to the solid construction. The pump is made using HDPE, so you can hope to enjoy a good performance on an ongoing basis.
The real benefit of using the filter pump is its large tank. You will find a 13-inch tank capable of holding up to 45lbs of sand. It is easy to maintain the filter and no real need to change the filter media any time soon.
For easy operation, the pump comes with a 4-way valve. Moreover, you will find a built-in pressure gauge, so you can always check the tank condition whenever you like. Its pure copper motor is an added benefit. It means that if you can spend the money, going for this filter is going to be a good bet.
- Equipped with a copper motor for better performance
- Powerful with a capacity of 2450GPH
- Better water filtration with a 4-position multiport valve
- A bit on the expensive side
What are Different Types of Filters in the Market?
You can find three basic types of above-ground pool filters in the market these days. Here’s a bit about them:
Sand Filter System
You may want to opt for this oldest type of above-ground filter system if you’re looking for an economical option. By using the reversal of the flow of water or simply called backwashing, these systems help remove debris and dirt from pool water.
These filters are quite capable and remove dirt particles up to 20 microns. A good quality sand filter is likely to last for 5-10 years, and they are quite easy to maintain as well.
Cartridge Filter System
These newly introduced filter systems can remove dirt up to 15 micros, and are therefore considered better than sand filters. In order to keep them working fine, you need to remove and clean the cartridge often. Filter cleaners are often used for this purpose.
DE Filter System
Similar to sand filters, they use diatomaceous earth (DE) as a filter media. They are further divided into two types, including regenerative filters and vertical grid filters. The best thing is that they can clean dirt as small as 2 microns.
How Do You Select the Best Above-ground Filter?
You have to consider so many things when making a choice. For instance, if you find dirt as small as 15 microns in your pool water, you may not benefit from a sand filter. Going for a cartridge filter system is a better bet here.
However, in case you don’t like to spend time cleaning and maintaining your filter system, a sand filter is a much better option. For cartridge filters, you have to remove the cartridge and soak it in a filter cleaner for 12 hours to get rid of grease.
In case you’re not in a mood to make a compromise over quality, you may want to put your money on a DE filter system. But, be prepared to cough up some money, as it is the most expensive filter system of all.
You should also keep the following two points in mind:
- Consider the Pool Size: You should consider the pool size in relation to the tank size to make a purchase. a sand filter with a tank size of 12-16 inches is enough for a pool with a capacity of 3,000-8,000 gallons.
- Consider the Flow Rate: It is really important in case of a cartridge filter. If you have a cartridge filter with 25GPH flow rate, it would take 8 hours to clean a pool of up to 12,000 gallons.
The crux of the matter is that sand, cartridge, and DE filter systems are all effective in different circumstances. You need to consider your budget constraints and know how dirty your pool gets to make the right choice. We have some of the best covered so take your time to pick the most suitable for your needs!