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Pool filters are a key component when it comes to keeping your pool clean and safe to swim in. The filter removes tiny particles including algae, bacteria, and other contaminants from the water and traps them in filtration media—which may be sand, DE (diatomaceous earth), or paper cartridges.
Cartridge pool filters are the most common and affordable type of pool filter but do require regular cleaning and occasional replacement. Sand pool filters are popular for their low maintenance requirements but require backwashing and a full change of sand about every 5 years. In addition, they only capture particles as small as 20 microns, which is less effective than some other types of pool filters. Pool filters with DE capture the smallest particles but require more time and effort to clean and backwash the system for continued filter performance.
Here, the best pool filters available now.
Best for Above Ground Pools: Carvin Laser 22.5-Inch Above Ground Swimming Pool Sand Filter with 7-Way Valve
Use a pool filter with sand to filter your way to cleaner, clearer water in your above ground pool. The Carvin Laser Sand Filter relies on naturally abrasive sand as a filter media to keep your pool sparkling. The system draws water evenly across the surface of the deep bed of sand in the filter tank, allowing for higher flow rates, better filtering, and more efficient backwashing. The pump is also equipped with a 7-way valve that can easily be adjusted for functions like filtration, backwashing, rinsing, draining, winterizing, and more.
Like all sand pool filters, it will require occasional backwashing (indicated by the pressure gauge) and the sand will need to be replaced about every 5 years. However, this above ground pool filter can keep up with pools up to 21,000 gallons in size.
Best for Easy Maintenance: Hayward W3C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter
A cartridge pool filter requires minimal maintenance to keep your pool clean and looking great all season long. While some other types of pool filters require backwashing or other regular maintenance procedures, a cartridge-style filter just needs a periodic rinse with a hose in between filter replacements. The Hayward StarClear Plus pool filter has a bolt-free lid that makes it easy to access and maintain the cartridge without a struggle.
This cartridge pool filter is often favorably compared to DE pool filters, but without the multi-step care and maintenance that DE systems require. The result is clear, sparkling water with less work. You can get the Hayward StarClear filter system in various capacities, depending on the needs of your pool or spa. This version with a single filter cartridge offers 120 square feet of filtration media and filtration rates up to 120 GPM—making it ideal for in-ground pools with a capacity up to 30,000 gallons of water.
Best for In-Ground Pools: Jacuzzi J-CQ420 420 sq. ft. In Ground Pool Cartridge Filter
If you have an in-ground pool, there are a number of options for filtering your pool water. However, the Jacuzzi J-CQ420 earns positive praise for its simple maintenance and performance in removing algae, dirt, bacteria, and other particles as small as 10 microns in size.
Inside this pool filter for in-ground pools are four individual filters that offer an impressive 420 square feet of filtration media. Unlike sand or DE pool filter systems, this type of pool filter doesn’t require any backwashing. Instead, just remove the top of the filter pump to access the four cartridges inside for periodic rinsing and occasional replacement. Easy maintenance means less time spent on pool maintenance and more time floating in clean, clear water.
Best DE: Hayward EC40AC Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. Pool Filter
DE pool filter pumps use a filtration grid coated with Diatomaceous Earth (DE). The advantage when compared to other pool filter pumps is the exceptionally fine filtration offered by DE filtration—it captures particles as small as 2 microns—much smaller than the width of a human hair, which is about 50 microns. For a combination of superior filtration and convenient cleaning and maintenance, check out the Hayward EC40AC Perflex Filter System.
Hayward uses a patented Flex-Tube system to help ensure that residual dirt and DE doesn’t accumulate in the tube. A handle makes it easy to purge the tubes—commonly referred to as "bumping" the DE filter. While not all DE pool filters are bump systems, it helps to reduce the hassle of regular cleaning and maintenance.
This pool filter pump can be messier to clean than a sand filter system, but it requires less frequent attention and offers a stronger return jet and less friction.
Best for Small Pools: Intex 1000 GPH Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump, 110-120V with GFCI
Small pools need sparkling water, too and are just as subject to algae growth as larger in-ground pools. For pools that have 6,000 gallons of water or less, consider the Intex Krystal Clear cartridge pool filter. This popular filter pump circulates 1,000 gallons per hour and provides filtration using Intex Type A filter cartridges, or compatible generic versions.
The Krystal Clear filtration system is a popular pool filter pump, especially for above ground pools. Users find that this simple model is easy to install and works well, when paired with the right size pool.