Different Pool Filter Types & 7 Best Above Ground Pool Filters & Pumps
A good filtration system is essential for keeping your above ground pool in good shape. However, having a good system is just one part of the puzzle, as you also need to use it with the best above-ground pool filter.
Investing in a good filter minimizes the work you need to do when maintaining your pools as it removes dirt, algae, and most other types of pool contaminants.
When choosing a filter for your above-ground pool, you have to consider several factors, from the type to ease of installation and cost. Here we look at some of these factors in more detail and also review a few top picks.
7 Best Above Ground Pool Filter – Review
1. Best Overall: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump takes our top spot as it is a cost-efficient, multifunctional, and hassle-free filter that will make cleaning your pool water a breeze.
It uses all-natural sand filtration media that will only need a replacement every 5 years with proper usage. What’s more, sand is an eco-friendlier filtration media.
The system includes a 6-function control valve that will allow pool owners to filter water and backwash, drain, rinse, recirculate, and close the system. The multi-function design eliminates the need to have different machines for these other functions.
Cleaning your pool should also be more hassle-free with the built-in 24-hour timer that allows you to automate the process entirely. One more thing pool owners will appreciate is that this pool filter provides a high enough flow rate of up to 2,100 gallons per hour.
The instructions on the functions of the filter valve seem a little vague, but most pool owners should still not have any difficulties figuring things out.
- Inexpensive and effective filtration element
- Convenient multifunction control valves
- Hassle-free cleaning with a built-in timer
- High enough flow rate
- Vague filter function instructions
2. Value for the Money: Summer Waves SkimmerPlus Skimmer Filter Pump
With a highly efficient design and a more affordable price tag, the Summer Waves SkimmerPlus will offer you the best value for money. What’s more, these are multifunction filters that combine both skimmer and filter pump functions.
These above ground pool filters are guaranteed to give you an easy time when installing, as you only need to attach the hoses and plug them in. Additionally, the filters have a 1.25-inch circle connection to ensure they will fit most metal frames above ground pools.
Cleaning the filter pump should take little effort, as you can flush out dirt and debris using your pump. Also, the unit installs on the pool’s sidewalls for easy access during maintenance.
Compared to other options on our above-ground pool filter review, the filters in this series have a relatively lower flow rate. However, regardless of the size or model you pick from the series, you should still get at least 330 gallons per hour.
- More affordable to ensure great value for cash
- Works as both skimmer and filter pump
- Quick and easy cleaning/installation
- Fits most above ground pools
- Relatively lower flow rate
3. Best Cartridge Filter: Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump
Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump is a good choice if you are looking for reliable cartridge filters. They feature some heavy-duty and double insulted pumps that are guaranteed to give you many years of excellent service.
The pumps are also straightforward to install as you only need to attach the hoses and plug in the pump to start cleaning water. Better yet, most of the filter pumps in this series will include air-release valves that make the pump priming a breeze.
Cartridges are a breeze to replace to ensure minimal downtimes for the pool, and they are also highly affordable to minimize maintenance costs.
You can also automate or schedule filtration with some models like Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump, as it includes a 2 to 12-hour timer. Others like Intex 28637EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump are perfect for those looking for a compact model for smaller above ground pools.
You will need to replace the filters at least once every 2 weeks. Although this is a little inconvenient, the filters are inexpensive and super easy to remove and install. The flow rate could also be higher, but what you get from most filters in this series is still quite okay.
- Inexpensive and easy cartridge replacement
- Allows for automated filtration with the built-in timer
- Heavy-duty pump
- Easy pump priming
- Requires more frequent filter replacements
- Flow rate could be higher
4. Best D.E. Filter: Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. Pool Filter
The efficiency of D.E. filters is hard to beat, and the Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle proves why. It can filter particles as small as 2 microns. Besides efficiency, it cleans faster than most other filter types.
These filters have a patented flex tube design that ensures you get longer cycles between cleaning as the same filter is used over and over again. Better still, no backwashing is required.
With the unique bump mechanism on this D.E. pool filter, the flex tubes will clean themselves instantly and uniformly, ensuring the system requires even less maintenance.
Overall, these filter pumps will operate with less resistance than the traditional units, meaning you will need less power to produce a lot of water.
Although cleaning this pool filter can be pretty messy, you will probably only need to do it once or twice a season, so this should not be a big concern.
- Extended cycles between cleaning
- Instant and uniform self-cleaning
- Efficient and fast pool cleaning
- Backwashing never required
- Messy when cleaning up
5. Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter
The Hayward ProSeries sand filters will offer an all-weather performance. They feature highly durable and corrosion-proof materials that will hold up well in any weather.
Also, the filters have a unique self-cleaning system that will deliver efficient flow and more even water distribution to ensure you get balanced backwashing and a longer equipment service life.
With the 7-position VariFlow valves, the filters will maintain a maximum flow rate even at a low-pressure drop. Additionally, they have a large sand and water drain to allow for faster servicing and winterizing.
These pool filters do not come with a base, which might be an issue for some pool owners, but it should not be a deal-breaker since they don’t need it to work well.
- Dependable performance in any weather
- Even water distribution for a long-lasting performance
- Quick servicing and winterizing
- Maximum flow even at low pressure
- Does not come with a base
6. GAME SandPRO Above Ground Pool Filter
Cleaning your above ground pool does not have to be a noisy affair with an ultra-quiet pool filter like the GAME SandPRO Above Ground Pool Filter. The pool filter uses a 1/3 HP motor and offers a high flow rate to keep your pool water clean.
Operating this pool filter is relatively straightforward, thanks to the 4-position rotary valve that allows you to filter, rinse, winterize and backwash the system. Additionally, there is also an easy-to-read pressure gauge.
You can use this pool filter on a wide variety of pool types with a capacity of up to 8,000 gallons. What’s more, you will only need as little as 25 pounds of medium-grade filtering sand.
An external on/off switch would have been highly convenient, and this pool filter could also do with a longer power cord, but both are minor issues that will not make the system less effective.
- Offers a quieter operation
- Includes a convenient and easy read gauge
- Simple operation with the multiposition rotary valve
- Wide pool compatibility
- No external on/off switch
- Shorter power cord
7. Hayward W3CC15093S XStream Above-Ground Pool Filter Pump System
The Hayward W3CC15093S XStream uses a larger filter to ensure equal dirt and debris distribution across the filtration element for more efficient filtration. Also, the larger filter provides a higher flow rate of up to 120 gallons per minute
This filtration system is designed to offer many years of excellent service, and it will feature a heavy-duty filter tank to ensure you get many years of hassle-free operation.
Maintaining the filtration system is quick and easy as it has an easy-lock ring design that makes accessing all internal components quickly. Overall, this is also an easy-to-use filter pump that can work for both flexible and rigid plumbing setups.
The instructions do not seem very user-friendly, but this is still quite a straightforward pool filter that should be easy to figure out for most pool owners.
- Equal dirt distribution on the filtering element
- Highly durable filter tank
- Easy access to all internal components
- Works well with both flexible and rigid plumbing
- Instructions are not very good
Guide to Buy the Best Above Ground Pool Filter
1. Filter Type
Above ground pool filters come in different types, so you should always start by deciding on which one to get. The types differ in the material they use to filter the water and also in how they work. Here are the 3 most common types.
Sand filters are simple and easy to use, which is why they are among the most popular types for above-ground pools. These filters use natural sand, and they will trap articles up to 20 microns as the water flow through the sand.
Additionally, sand filters like Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter offer low maintenance as there is hardly anything you have to do besides occasional backwashing.
Cartridge filters are more efficient at filtration than sand filters as they can capture contaminants as small as 10 microns. These filters will have the filtration element inside a cartridge which you need to replace every few weeks. But most like the Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump are designed to make installation a breeze.
D.E. filters are the most effective and efficient type as they can trap contaminants as small as 2 microns.
As their name suggests, D.E. filters such as Hayward Perflex Extended-Cycle use diatomaceous earth, a naturally occurring compound, to filter out the pool water. However, these are the most expensive filter types.
2. Pump Compatibility
Any filter you choose for your above ground pool needs to be compatible with your pump to work well for you. Compatibility ensures the filter can handle the pressure and flow that your pump generates.
Also, watch out for the types of connector valves on the filter, as they should also be compatible with your pump. If the connector valves are not the right type and size, you will need to spend more money on adaptor plugs.
3. Filtration Capacity
The filter you choose needs to have enough capacity to clean all the water in your above ground pool. In most instances, these pools will have a maximum capacity of 15,000 gallons, so any filter that can handle at least that should be good enough.
However, the most crucial factor that you need to focus on when it comes to the capacity is the number of gallons the filter can handle per hour, as this needs to match your pump. If the filter flow rate is too low for your pump, the filtration process will not be smooth.
Depending on how heavily you use your pool, a filtration capacity of at least 300 gallons per hour should be good enough.
4. Ease of Installation
You do not want to pay a professional to install something as simple as a pool filter. Therefore, whatever you choose should be as easy to install as possible.
Also, remember that you will need to change the filter quite often depending on the type, so it should give you an easy time.
Cartridge filters like the Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump are the easiest to install as you only need to pop them in place. This should only take a few minutes for most filtration systems, and you will not need any special skills or tools.
Filters are an ongoing expenditure that you will need to make for the lifetime of your above ground pool. Therefore, you cannot overlook their price as the costs can add up in the long run.
Depending on the type and brand, you can get a filter for as little as under $10. However, some will cost hundreds of dollars or even more.
However, cheap filters typically have a shorter service life as they cannot filter a lot of water, so you will need to buy several of them within a short time. Therefore, you should consider the service life to determine what gives you the best value for money when deciding what to buy.
A filter is vital for keeping your above-ground pool safe and clean. Finding the right one for your pool requires you to choose from several types and consider other factors like filtration capacity but, there is something for everyone in our review above.
The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump is our top overall recommendation as it offers cost-efficient and natural filtration and includes several other fantastic functions like the 24-hour timer.
However, the Summer Waves SkimmerPlus Skimmer Filter Pump will give you the best value for money and is super easy to install.