The 11 Best Above Ground Pool Filters

Best-Above-Ground-Pool-Filters

Efficient filtration is crucial if you want to get the most out of your swimming pool.

If you get this decision right, you’ll notice a huge difference in the amount of time you need to spend cleaning your pool. Get it wrong, on the other hand, and you’ll be spending more time fussing around than on your pool lounger or splashing around in your above-ground pool.

While there’s no doubt that adding some pool lights can improve the ambiance poolside, and throwing in a swimming pool heater will make things comfier, a pool filter will dictate the clarity of your water, so you owe it to yourself to buy the best above-ground pool filter for your purposes.

Even though you’ll still need to perform some maintenance like vacuuming and ensuring the water chemistry is balanced, investing in a filter takes care of all the hard work for you, while keeping your pool blissfully germ-free.

Today, we’ll help you make this decision with ease. Firstly, we’ll be reviewing the best above-ground filters and highlighting their benefits and drawbacks so you can buy with your eyes wide open.

Once we’re done with our reviews, we’ll walk you through the most important things to consider on the buying trail.

TLDR: this mainly comes down to the type of filter you choose:

  • DE filter
  • Cartridge filter
  • Sand filter

We’ll explore these various types of above-ground swimming pool filters in more depth below.

Before that, though, we’ll dive into our reviews right now so you can assess the scope of the pool filtration market more easily.

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The 11 Best Above Ground Pool Filters

1. Our #1 Pick: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Above-Ground Pool Pump

Intex-Krystal-Clear-Sand-Filter-Pump-for-Above-Ground-Pools

Features

  • Sand filter pump
  • 1200 GPH
  • 15 x 20.5 x 12.5 inches

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and low-maintenance method pool filtration, sand filter pumps deliver fully. Pool specialist Intex dominates this vertical completely, so how does the Krystal Clear shape up, then?

The filter comes with 6 different modes:

  • Filter
  • Rinse
  • Backwash
  • Drain
  • Recirculate
  • Close system

There’s a digital timer onboard that allows you to have the pump coming on and off automatically each day. You can set it to run for up to 12 hours at a time, providing you with crystal clear water as promised with the name of this filtration system.

Using sand as a filter media is a pocket-friendly method of keeping your pool water clean. As long as you perform routine backwashing, you shouldn’t need to replace it for 5 years.

This is a 10-inch tank with the capacity for 26 pounds of sand. There is also a 12-inch and 16-inch filter available in this range.

Use this filter for pools with a water capacity of between 2,800 and 8,400 gallons.

The vast majority of user feedback concerning this filter is positive. The complaints we found center on weaknesses in quality control and packages arriving with damaged components. Check your delivery closely upon arrival.

You’ll find the strainer basket is designed so as to simplify cleaning. This also helps to prolong the lifespan of the filter.

This filter is designed for 16-inch above-ground Intex pools. Overall, this is a pocket-friendly approach to swimming pool filtration that won’t end up burdening you with ongoing costs, and won’t call for anything much by the way of maintenance either. See what you feel.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 6 modes of operation
  • Low maintenance
  • Ideal for 16-foot Intex above-ground pools
  • Quality control could be improved

2. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump

Intex-Krystal-Clear-Cartridge-Filter-Pump-for-Above-Ground-Pools

Features

  • Cartridge filter
  • 1000 GPH
  • 6 x 10.6 x 15 inches

Next up we have another Intex pool filtration solution. This model is a cartridge filter from the Krystal Clear line, so what do you get for your money here?

This unit is rated at 1000 GPH and it’s designed so that maintenance is an absolute breeze. This cartridge filter pump is also remarkably easy to install. Partial assembly is required, but all you need to do is snap on the hoses and plug this pump in and you’re away.

The filter needs replacing once every two weeks, and that’s about all you’ll need to do to keep this pump tip-top and the water in your pool at its very best.

Hydro Aeration technology baked in serves 3 main purposes:

  1. Improving the water clarity in your pool
  2. Enhancing air freshness in your pool by increasing the quantity of negative ions on the surface
  3. Boosting pool circulation and filtration

With this triple-tiered approach, you have all you need at your fingertips for the best possible water quality in your pool with the very minimum of effort.

You get absolutely everything you need bundled, too, so you won’t need to hustle out to the hardware store for connectors or extras.

This pump uses Type A or Type C cartridges. As mentioned, these need swapping fortnightly, beyond which you won’t need to bother with anything else by the way of upkeep here.

Ideal for Intex Easy Set, Metal Frame and oval pools from 15 to 18 feet, Intex hits another homer here.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Super-simple to use
  • 2-week cartridge lifespan
  • Works with 15 to 18-foot pools
  • Not ideal with extension cord

3. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump

Intex-28633EG-Krystal-Clear-Cartridge-Filter-Pump-for-Above-Ground-Pools

Features

  • Cartridge filter
  • 2500 GPH
  • 75 x 18.5 x 16 inches

Next in line comes yet another Intex filter, again from the Krystal Clear range, one of the most enduringly popular pool filter lines up for grabs. How does this powerful filter differentiate itself, then?

This is one of the beefier models available, boasting a flow rate of 2500 GPH.

Another cartridge filter pump designed expressly for use with above-ground pools, this makes a neat fit with all Intex pools. If you have an alternate pool, or a smaller pool, you may be able to use adapters to shoehorn this filter in. These are not supplied with the package, though. If you have a non-Intex pool, you should check closely for compatibility.

The automatic timer onboard allows you to run the filter on preset cleaning cycles from 2 through 12 hours. Tailor this to your needs and the requirements of your pool and keep your water crystal clear without needing to lift a finger.

The cartridge filter means all you need to do in order to keep your pool efficiently filtered is to swap out the cartridge fortnightly. Make sure you factor this into your budgeting before committing to purchase so you have a clear idea of ongoing running costs.

The pump itself is double-insulated for prolonged lifespan and increased efficiency in operation.

There’s a Hydro Aeration inlet included in the package along with a single replaceable filter cartridge. These are Type B cartridges and readily available. This give you enough to get you running right out the box and enjoying crisper, cleaner water in your swimming pool this summer and year-round.

If you’re looking for reliability, durability, and the utmost efficiency in a pool filter, Intex delivers fully once again.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Swap out cartridges every 2 weeks
  • For 15 to 18-foot pools
  • Double-insulated pump
  • Not all required parts are included

4. Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter

Hayward-S210T-ProSeries-Sand-Filter

Features

  • Sand filter pump
  • 20000 GPH
  • 5 x 21 x 21 inches

Alongside Intex, the other name you can’t miss when you’re searching for the best above-ground pool filter is Hayward. This pool specialist has been in business for close to a century serving up highly effective solutions like this fine filter.

A sand filter pump, you’ll be investing in one of the most affordable filtration systems. How does it perform, though?

Firstly, the manufacturer provides a handy compatibility checker to make your life super-simple. If you’re considering this filter, go here to check if it makes the right fit. All good? Read on to see what you get for your money.

Although this unit is designed for use with above-ground pools, you’ll find it also fits some small in-ground pools. This filter is so versatile, you could even press it into action in an aquarium.

The flow valve can be manipulated through 7 settings giving you plenty of scope. This flexibility is perfect if you have lower pressure but still want to maximize water flow.

Installation is a cinch and you should be up and running in no time without needing to call in a professional.

The sand and water drain is substantial and simplifies servicing or winterizing this unit. You’ll get a rounded base included giving you everything you need to get started.

There’s a diffuser baked in that helps with even distribution of water across the whole sand bed.

The only thing to watch out for here is the exorbitant shipping costs levied by the manufacturer for returns. This snag aside, you’re getting a first-class sand filter pump from a brand you can rely on here. What are you waiting for?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Maximum flow at low pressure
  • Easy installation
  • Corrosion-proof housing
  • Expensive shipping costs for returns

5. Hayward Perflex Pool Filter

Hayward-EC40AC-Perflex-Extended-Cycle-D.E.-Pool-Filter

Features

  • DE filter
  • Removes particles to 2 microns
  • 8 x 14.7 x 4.3 inches

Another Hayward pool filter up next with this Perflex model. We’ll break down how this unit stands and falls so you can determine whether it makes a smooth fit for your pool at home.

Now, this is a DE filter. If you haven’t encountered this type of system before, it’s the single most effective method of filtering your pool, making use of diatomaceous earth (DE). This is a powdered form a naturally-occurring sedimentary rock. As the water passes over this, all those tiny particles of dirt and debris, bacteria, and algae are efficiently removed.

This extended cycle filter will not only clean your water quickly, but it offers up less resistance than most regular filters, too.

Innovative design is evident throughout. The DE flex tubes are constructed so that they continuously clean themselves, saving you a job and keeping your filter running at its best. Since the same DE powder is used time and again, you’ll enjoy longer cycles between cleaning, too.

If you’re looking to achieve efficient pool filtration without the endless hassle of backwashing, you could do far worse than investigate this superb pool filter from one of the most dominant brands in this space. Let us know what you think if you opt for this hard-hitting DE pool filter.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Less resistance than regular filters
  • Highly efficient
  • Cleans pool quickly
  • Some issues with quality control

6. Game SandPro Pool Filter

GAME-SandPRO-75D-Series,-Complete-0.75HP-Replacement-Pool-Sand-Filter-Unit

Features

  • Sand filter pump
  • 75D
  • 15 x 15 x 27 inches

Next in line we have a heavy and durable pool filter from Game, a meticulously engineered pool filter that’s a smooth fit if you have a Bestway or Intex pool. For other pools, we would advise checking closely for compatibility before whipping out your credit card.

You’ll need a pool that holds up to 15,000 gallons with a flow rate of 52 GPM for best results from this sand filter pump. You’ll also need 75 pounds of filtering sand (medium-grade), but this is not included with purchase.

This filter system packs a motor with a great flow rate as well as a 0.75 HP pump more than capable of delivering in smaller above-ground pools.

You can very easily adjust the rotary valve through 4 positions. This allows you to perform the following functions:

  • Filter
  • Rinse
  • Backwash
  • Winterize

The pressure gauge on this unit is easy to see at a glance and without contorting yourself.

You get a handful of adapters thrown in along with guidance concerning the alternative pools you could use this filter system with.

If you want a swimming pool filter for your above-ground pool that’s easy to use, extremely efficient, and runs almost whisper-quiet, this is one of the strongest sand filter systems on our shortlist.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Easy to read pressure gauge
  • Filters, rinses, backwashes, and winterizes
  • Ideal with Intex and Bestway pools
  • Overall build is flimsy

7. Hayward Pro-Series Sand Filter

Hayward-W3S220T-ProSeries-Sand-Filter,-22-Inch,-Top-Mount

Features

  • Sand filter pump
  • 22-inch, top-mounted
  • 15 x 20.5 x 12.5 inches

We have another Hayward filter up next with this top-mounted system. Another sand filter pump, you’ll get all the efficiency you’d expect from this category of filter. Benefit from crisp and clear water all year round without endlessly fussing over your pool by treating yourself to this nifty filtration system.

Off the bat, you’ll appreciate the 6-position control valve. These top-mounted models are also available with a 7-position valve. In addition to this, you can find side-mounted models if you feel this would make a better fit for your pool.

The oversized drain valve is another neat touch that helps to simplify servicing or winterizing your filter system.

Like all models in the enduringly popular ProSeries, the chassis of this filter is built to withstand some serious punishment. Made from a molded and corrosion-resistant material, you won’t be plagued by any tasky upkeep, and this system should last for years.

Overall, water flow is remarkably efficient, backwashing is completely balanced, and water distribution nice and even. You really can’t ask for much more than this in a swimming pool filter. The only thing a handful of users complain about is the lack of an air purge valve on this model.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 6-position control valve
  • Easy to service and winterize
  • Balanced flow and backwashing
  • No air purge valve

8. Summer Waves SkimmerPlus Pool Filter

Summer-Waves-SkimmerPlus-P53FX1500-1500GPH-Above-Ground-Swimming-Pool-120V

Features

  • Skimmer filter
  • 1500 GPH
  • 3 x 11 x 9 inches

The Summer Waves Store is packed with equipment and accessories for pool owners just like you. If you had staved off purchasing a pool filter on the grounds of cost, this is one of the most affordable solutions out there that doesn’t stiff you when it comes to performance.

The key selling point of the SkimmerPlus is the fact it serves double duty. You get a skimmer along with a pool filter, as the name hints at.

Installation is straightforward. You just need to attach this system to the sidewalls of your above-ground pool. You’ll then enjoy clean and clear water all year round without needing to constantly fuss over your swimming pool. Instead, let this fine filter do the hard yards while you relax in your pool lounger with a cocktail.

The flow rate is 1500 GPH placing this on a par with many much more expensive pool filters.

You get a circle fitting with this filter. There is a square retrofit kit available separately if you require it. There is a GFCI power card bundled, too.

The skimming technology onboard ensures that debris is continuously removed from the surface of your water and then dumped into the onboard strainer basket from where it can be easily removed. The filter cartridge helps to purify and chlorinate your water completing a winning package.

This is an affordable and extremely efficient pool filter that also skims your water. If you want water that’s crystal clear in your above-ground pool, this is one of the strongest options you’ll find in a crowded space.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Skimmer and filter pump combined
  • Integrated strainer basket
  • GFCI power cord
  • Not good for larger pools

9. Hayward Perflex Pool Filter

Hayward-EC50AC-Perflex-D.E.-Pool-Filter,

Features

  • DE filter
  • Cleans without backwashing
  • 7 x 17.8 x 15.6 inches

Hayward has another precision-engineered DE filter from the Perflex line, so what do you get for your money here?

Well, this unit is a neat fit for both oval and round above-ground swimming pools. If you click here, you can establish quickly and easily if this filter will slot into your pool. In the case of oval pools, it’s ideal for those sized from 18 to 39 feet, and it works well with round pools from 28 to 33 feet.

Not only is this filter highly effective, but it also gets to work in a flash. You’ll get extended cleaning cycles with super-sharp water clarity, and you’ll achieve this without the need for backwashing.

This is DE filter, so you’ll benefit from all the advantages of using diatomaceous earth, and you’ll also get Hayward’s pioneering Flex-Tube design for total efficiency.

In spite of a few minor snags with the pressure gauge reported, the vast majority of users give this slick swimming pool filter very positive reviews. It might not be especially cheap, but you’ll know where that extra money went when you see the clarity of the water in your pool.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Ideal for round and oval pools
  • Corrosion-free filtering
  • Delivers superb water clarity
  • Pressure gauge can be problematic

10. Hayward XStream Filter Pump

Hayward-W3CC15093S-XStream-Above-Ground-Pool-Filter-Pump-System

Features

  • Cartridge filter
  • 5 HP
  • 6 x 21.6 x 37.3 inches

As we edge to the end of our search for the best above-ground pool filter, we have another entry from the inimitable Hayward, this time the XStream model. How does this filter fare, then?

Firstly, this filter pump is designed to make a smooth fit with either rigid or flexible plumbing.

This is a filter pump set that included a 1.5 HP pump in the pack. This is the Hayward PowerFlo Matrix model.

As a cartridge filter pump, maintenance is almost nil. There’s a supersized filter body in place on this unit so that all dirt and debris is efficiently and evenly distributed. This also goes some way toward improving the efficiency of the cleaning cycles. The tank is reinforced with glass filter material for enviable lifespan.

The Easy-Lok ring design is there to streamline access of all internal components. All you need to do is twist and turn. Small touches like this make your life easier over the lifespan of the unit.

While most user testimony is positive concerning this filter, the same can’t be said for responses to customer care. Several disgruntled users report a lack of resolution when they needed help. This minor gripe aside, you’re getting a highly effective cartridge filter ideal for above-ground pools from an industry heavyweight: what’s not to love?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Oversized filter body
  • Pump included
  • Works with rigid or flexible plumbing
  • Poor customer service

11. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump

Intex-28635EG-Krystal-Clear-Cartridge-Filter-Pump-for-Above-Ground-Pools

Features

  • Cartridge filter
  • 1500 GPH
  • 5 x 18.1 x 14.1 inches

Last but by no means least in our search for the best above-ground pool filter is yet another entry from Intex, a company with a stranglehold on this market segment. How does this unit shape up?

This is a cartridge filter, so you’ll benefit from plug-and-play installation. If you have been put off investigating pool filtration imagining that you’d need professional help to get set up, this filter should make you rethink that. All you need to do is attach the hoses and plug it in.

Designed for use with Intex pools, this filter is ideal for 18-inch Easy Set pools, 16 or 18-inch frame pools, and 20 x 12 foot oval pools. You have plenty of options at your disposal.

The double-insulated pump is equipped with a timer. This allows you to punch in cycles of 2 to 12 hours depending on the needs of your pool.

The filter comes with a cartridge included. This is very easy to clean. To keep your pool water crisp and clear, you should replace the cartridge once every two weeks. As with all pool filters of this type, you’ll need to factor in those ongoing expenses when you’re budgeting to avoid any nasty surprises later down the line.

There’s a sediment flush valve and air release valve contributing toward a precision-engineered package that should keep your water and pool at its best year-round without you needing to lift a finger.

Although most users seem extremely satisfied with this filter and give glowing reviews, we found some isolated complaints about the quality of the customer service on offer. This is a bugbear that plagues Intex. All we can offer up in defense is the fact that their products are so good, there’s very little chance you’ll find yourself needing customer service in the first place.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Straightforward installation
  • For oval above-ground pools
  • Replace cartridge fortnightly
  • Unresponsive customer service

Things You Should Consider

Above-Ground-Pool-Filters

All swimming pools require filtration to keep dirt, pollen, and contaminants from spoiling the quality of the water you swim in.

Filters work using the same simple principle. They create suction, and this suction forces water through a pump. Here, it will run through the filter – we’ll break down the different types of filter below – and all the debris is neatly sifted away.

Larger debris is typically trapped by the strainer basket before it has chance to reach – and potentially damage – the filter itself.

An in-ground pool filter, on the other hand, usually relies on the drains in the pool along with integrated skimmers to take care of removing larger debris.

With above-ground pool pumps, you won’t benefit from as much horsepower, but then you won’t need it, and you’ll also find these filters a snap to set up.

If you have no idea what to look out for when you’re comparing above-ground swimming pool filters, pay attention to the following simple pointers:

  • Type of pool filter
  • Size of pool filter
  • Lifespan
  • Compatibility
  • Ease of installation
  • Maintenance
  • The bottom line

Type of pool filter

The first part of your buying decision will center on the type of pool filter. You have 3 main choices here:

  • DE filter: This is the most effective type of pool filter making use of diatomaceous earth (DE). This is a naturally-occurring sedimentary rock packed with the skeletons of microorganisms. This powder will sift out particles as fine as 2 to 4 microns, particles invisible to the naked eye. Although expensive to buy, this is the best type of above-ground pool filter you can find
  • Cartridge filter: Next down in terms of cleaning efficiency comes a cartridge filter. This will filter contaminants as small as 10 to 15 microns. To put this into perspective, you can see particles as small as 40 microns, but nothing smaller without the aid of a microscope. These are remarkably easy to use. All you do is slide in a filter cartridge. This will filter the debris from your pool, and just needs replacing once every couple of weeks. This lack of maintenance is perhaps the key selling point of cartridge filters
  • Sand filter: Arguably the most popular type of pool filter is a simple sand filter. These only trap particles to a size of 20 microns, but this is still much smaller than you could detect with the naked eye. The tanks of these units are filled with natural sand. The water passes through this sand as it travels through the pump. It’s the sand responsible for capturing the small fragments of debris. Sand filters give you years of maintenance-free filtering. All you’ll need to do is backwash the system once in a while. This will hose the debris from the sand so it is nicely roughened and ready to trap more fine particles

Size of pool filter

When it comes to pool filters, there are only 4 broad size categories.

If you have an above-ground pool, most will use the smallest type of filter designed to cope with up to 15,000 gallons of water. There are larger filters capable of dealing with 25,000 gallons, but you’re not likely to find an above-ground pool with that sort of capacity.

The most important element to focus on is how many gallons per hour the system pumps. This flow rate is expressed in terms of GPH (gallons per hour). If you choose a filter that’s too small for the pump, you could create pressure problems, so do your due diligence and get the size of the pool filter right.

Lifespan

A DE filter only usually lasts 4 or 5 years. You might get a slightly longer lifespan that this if you care for it properly, but don’t count on it.

Although a cartridge filter will only last a year or two, they are much cheaper and easier to replace.

Sand filters, on other hand, should return from 5 to 7 years of service if properly maintained.

Compatibility

If you already have a pool pump, you need to check that the filter you have in mind is compatible with the pump.

Many of the options on our shortlist come as a complete system with everything you need included. In this case, all you’ll need to worry about is the sizing.

Note: your filter should never have a smaller flow rate than the pump.

Ease of installation

Filters can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more when it comes to installation.

You should have no requirement to call in a professional, and there are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube if you find the instructions let you down.

Maintenance

If you’re looking for the ultimate in low-maintenance pool filtration, there’s no substitute for a cartridge filter. All you need to do is replace this fortnightly.

With sand filters and DE filters, you’ll need to factor in occasional backwashing to maintain system health and to keep your water clear.

The bottom line

If you shop for above-ground pool filters based purely on the bottom line, you could end up with a filter that’s unfit for purpose.

If you’re looking to spend as little as possible off the bat, opt for a sand filter.

If you don’t mind paying a little more and you don’t mind the ongoing cost of replacements, cartridge systems offer you complete convenience in return.

All that counts here is finding the right pool filter, and you should look for overall value rather than only looking at the price tag. If you get a filter that lasts for years, you could end of saving money over time, even if it wasn’t a cheap pool filter in the first place.

OK, you should now be perfectly positioned to find the best above-ground swimming pool filter for your needs without too much trouble.

To round out today, we’ve curated the answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning pool filters.


FAQs

1) Which is the most expensive type of pool filter and is it any good?

A DE filter is the costliest to buy, and it’s also the most effective filter. Making use of diatomaceous earth (DE), water passes through this media and it removes microscopic particles as small as 1 micron. So, while you’ll pay a little more for one of these pool filters, you’ll enjoy superior water clarity as a result.

2) I want zero-maintenance pool filtration. Which system should I buy?

This is a no-brainer: go for a cartridge filter. Aside from swapping the cartridge itself – once every two weeks is recommended, depending on use – you’ll need to do nothing more with this type of pool filter.

3) Can I use any pool filter in an above-ground pool?

Absolutely not. This is the one area of your buying decision that needs the most attention. In-ground pools and above-ground pools have very different needs for filtration. Beyond this, you’ll need to choose the type of filter that best suits, as well as paying attention to the flow rate relative to the pump.


Conclusion

Well, with our quest for the best above-ground pool filter at an end, we hope that it’s enabled you to readily pick the most appropriate solution for your pool.

Take the time to browse our buying guide and you should have a clear understanding of the advantages and downsides of the most common types of pool filter in this class. You should also be able to compare the models we review like-for-like and easily pick the best fit.

Take a second to bookmark Wild River Country before you head off. We’ll be bringing you fresh content daily covering all aspects of pool ownership. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything you’d like us to cover here on the site, and we very much hope to see you soon!

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