Keep your above ground pool sparkling and clean with our hand-picked reviews of the best above ground pool filters.
Having a reliable pool filter can be a huge game-changer for you and your above ground swimming pool.
The big perk of having a quality filter is simple: it keeps your pool cleaner so that you can spend more time enjoying it instead of cleaning it.
Pools get dirty. Especially when you consider they are outside, collecting dead bugs, leaves, dirt, and so on. Combine that with the debris that swimmers track into the pool and you get an idea of how dirty your pool can become.
Pool filters work their magic by sucking in pool water and “washing” it through a filter, cleaning the water and pumping it back out into the pool. Larger junk gets collected into a strainer basket, which can be pulled out and emptied.
Instead of having to use your pool vacuum and balance the water daily, a good filter can decrease the amount of time you spend on cleaning the pool.
While many pools come with filters, there are some outstanding add-on filters that you can use to keep the waters of your pool sparkling and crystal-clear.
Here’s a breakdown of our favorite pool filters for above ground swimming pools.
1. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter for Above Ground Pools
⭐ Best sand filter for Intex swim pools
Intex Pools is a popular name in the backyard swimming pool niche, making pools and pool accessories like replacement liners, pool toys, and much more.
Sand filters are awesome because they are ruthless with attacking algae spores and dirt. With a built-in timer, the soft sand filters, backwashes, and recirculates the water at a rate of over 2,000 gallons per hour. A strainer basket is included that helps to extend the life of the sand, which Intex says only needs to be changed once every five years.
The Intex Krystal Clear Pool Filter is designed for above ground swimming pools that are between 16’ and 24’.
2. Hayward DE Above Ground Pool Filter
⭐ Best DE pool filter for above-ground pools
This filter might look like a beige fire hydrant, but make no mistake, Hayward makes some powerful pool equipment, and this particular pool filter is a total monster when it comes to cleaning pools.
Hayward uses DE—diatomaceous earth—to rapidly and quietly clean pool water without the need for backwashing. Their pool filters are more powerful than sand filters and can tackle difficult algae blooms and dirty pools with ease. In terms of cleaning ability and speed, the Hayward DE Pool Filters are worth the extra cost.
Even though the unit itself is relatively small, the DE Filter attaches to a pump and goes to work immediately, resulting in noticeably clearer and cleaner water in just a couple hours.
3. Summer Waves Filter Pump System for Above Ground Swim Pools
⭐ Best budget-friendly filter for above ground pools
The Summer Waves Filter Pump System is available in 1000 and 1500 gallons per hour and fits most above ground swimming pools. It is a combination skimmer and filter pump that works to continuously clean the water with a strainer and filter cartridge.
Easily attachable to the pool’s sidewall, the Summer Waves Filter Pump stays out of the way so that you can enjoy your pool and the surrounding areas without worrying about tripping on it. Users note the importance of keeping moisture out of the power switch to maximize the life of the pump.
4. Hayward ProSeries Sand Pool Filter
Another entry by Hayward is its ProSeries. Unlike the DE-filter, the Hayward ProSeries uses sand to filter the water from your above ground swimming pool. (It works for some smaller in-ground pools, as well.)
The durable filter tank has a 7-position valve that keeps pressure, and the durable corrosion-resistant housing ensures that it will keep coming back to keep the water clean season after season.
Easy to set-up, the ProSeries comes in a variety of sizes, includes the filter, a weather-proof base, and Teflon tape. Hayward makes durable and powerful pool filters, and if you are looking for a sand filter, you cannot go wrong with this bad boy.
5. GAME SandPRO Above-Ground Pool Filter
As you can guess from the product’s name, the GAME SandPRO uses sand to filter the water in your pool. Powered by a 0.5 horsepower pump, the SandPro is a quiet-running debris-busting pool filter that leaves your pool sparkling and clear.
Recommended for Intex and Bestway above-ground pools, the SandPro has a see-through top that allows you to see the debris that has been collected in the strainer, and has a clear pressure gauge at the top of the housing.
The 50D model (pictured above) cleans pools up to 10,000 gallons. (The Game SandPRO also comes in 35D and 75D models, which can filter pools up to 8,000 gallons and 15,000 gallons respectively.)
The SandPro is highly-rated, with a nearly five-star rating, with many users lauding the ease of operating and installing the pool filter. Cleaning is also easy with a see-through lid peering down into the strainer basket.
6. Intex Krystal Klear Cartridge Pool Filter
⭐ Best budget-friendly filter and pump for Intex pools
Designed specifically for above ground swimming pools, the Intex Krystal Klear Cartridge Pool Filter. The filter uses Type A or C filter cartridges that are switched out every 14 days or so. Able to filter 1,000-2,500 gallons per hour, the unit requires a little bit of work to set-up, but it’s straightforward.
The 1,500 and 2500gph models come with a 24-hour timer. The double-insulated pump has an air release valve that aerates the water, oxidizing iron and manganese and works to keep your pool water clean and sparkling.
How does a filter keep my above ground pool clean?
Swimming pools are a bastion of awesome times. But when they aren’t properly cleaned and maintained, they can quickly become a water-logged pile of yuck.
But all jokes aside, your pool filter does a ton of the heavy lifting for keeping your swimming pool ready for action. An efficient filtration system removes unwanted guests from the water, including dead bugs, dirt, pollen, and other small pieces of organic matter.
The filter system works by gently pulling water into the pump, where your filter of choice—sand, D.E., or cartridge—filters the debris, cleaning the water and pumping it back out into your pool.
While larger debris is typically caught up in your pool vacuum—whether that’s a manual pool vacuum or an automatic pool cleaner—or collected with a pool skimmer, the filter is your last line of defense from allowing organic matter from staking claim and growing into bacteria and algae.
How do I know which filter is right for my above ground pool?
If you are new to the responsibility of owning an above-ground pool, don’t sweat.
Once you get a lay of the land, and especially the lingo and vocabulary associated with pools, things are very straightforward.
When it comes to picking the right filter for your pool, there are three main things to look at:
✅ Pool size. How big is your above-ground pool? Figuring out the right filter and pump means having a clear understanding of the volume of your pool. From there, we can start narrowing down the strength of filter and the type of filter we want to use.
✅ Determine GPH. This is a measure of how much water your filter can move, rated as gallons-per-hour (GPH). A filter and pump that are too small will cause unnecessary pressure on the plumbing of your pool. And a filter that is way too powerful will simply be you spending more money than necessary.
Pool filters and pumps should be able to run for 8 hours per day. Take the volume of your pool, (i.e. 10,000-gallons), divided it by 8, and this will give you the GPH minimum requirement for your pool. In the case of our example, this is 1,250 gallons per hour.
✅ Filter type. There are three different types of above-ground pool filters, each cleaning the water in varying ways.
We will look at them more in-depth shortly, but for now, they are sand, cartridge, and DE.
What are the different kinds of filters for above ground pools?
There are three main kinds of above-ground pool filters and each do a great job of cleaning the pool.
With each you will hear about how they can clean down to a specific micron size. For reference, a human hair is around 45 microns.
Here they are:
✅ Sand filters. These are the most popular for above-ground pools. The filtration system works by moving water through—you guessed it—sand! The sand snags matter 20 microns in size and larger. Maintenance includes changing the sand every few years and backwashing the filter on occasion.
✅ Cartridge filters. A close second are cartridge filters, which clean to a finer level—down to around 15 microns and higher—by moving water through the pump and against a cartridge that captures debris. The cartridge needs to get cleaned frequently and a cartridge will last around a year or so. On the plus side, cartridge filters are small, very energy efficient and do not require backwashing.
✅ DE Filters. These are the King Daddy filters in terms of effectiveness. They use a powder called diatomaceous earth (which admittedly sounds like a period when the dinosaurs roamed the planet) and a grid filter that collects debris and matter as small as 3 microns in size. DE filters are priced at the higher end of the range with pool filters.
Ultimately, the pool filter you choose comes down to how effective you want your filter to be, how much maintenance you are comfortable performing, and the durability of the filter and pump.
Which filter requires the least amount of maintenance?
Sand filters are the easiest to maintain. Besides backwashing from time to time, the sand itself doesn’t need to be changed for about 5 years or so.
Cartridge filters are also somewhat easy to maintain. Depending on use—the dirtier your pool gets, the more you will have to clean it—and regular cleaning, a cartridge should last you a while.
DE is perhaps the most cumbersome to maintain, as the powder needs be changed about once a month.
Of course, these standards of maintenance vary by pool size and filter type, so always remember to check with both before plunking down a bunch of money for a new pool filter.
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