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Best Above Ground Pool Filters in 2020 – Reviewed

The one piece of equipment that an above ground pool owner can purchase to keep their pool in swimming shape all summer long is a quality pool filter. A poor filter will leave harmful contaminants in the pool—either leaving it looking bad or even worse, containing harmful pathogens. A quality filter, on the other hand, will keep the pool looking good and keep it healthy, too.

Unfortunately, too many people run out and buy the first filter they see and that they think will fit their pool. That’s the worst thing they can do. A better strategy is to find a quality filter that has the features you need and fits your pool size. We found quite a few of these filters, and we’ve listed the best above ground pool filters below for all of our readers.

Quick Summary of Best Above Ground Pool Filters

 Editor’s Choice 
Hayward W3C3030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter  (review)
 Also Recommended 
Hayward W3S180T92S ProSeries 18-Inch Sand Filter System  (review)
 Also Consider 
Intex 28635EG Krystal-Clear Cartridge Filter Pump  (review)

Reviews

Editor’s Choice: Hayward W3C3030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter

Even though we realize that a lot of people have been using sand pool filters for a long time, we urge these above ground pool owners to consider another type of filter, or more specifically, this filter from Hayward. This filter is the W3C3030, a cartridge pool filter that uses a top manifold design that allows it to have longer cleaning cycles and better efficiency than other types of filters. This means that the filter in this product doesn’t need to be changed as frequently as other cartridge filters. And because this filter’s components are cleanable, the pool owner does not need to backwash the system.

This filter saves up to 2,500-gallons of water per year because it doesn’t need backwashing. That’s a considerable water saving. When you take those water savings and combine them with the savings offered by not having to replace the filter as often, we believe that more than offsets the increased cost of this unit. This is a heavy-duty unit that should provide the pool owner with years of faithful service, so it’s up to the consumer if they want to buy a cheaper pool filter that doesn’t last as long or buy this one that will last a long time. The choice is up to them.

To be completely frank, these water filters are designed to hold up to even the toughest of conditions and in the worst environments. They are made of heavy-duty materials, are virtually tamper-proof, and have a design that gives the user easy access to all of the unit’s internal components. This high-capacity model also has a rapid-release manual air-relief, can filter 120-gallons of water per minute, and is designed to filter pools up to 325-square feet in size. All things considered, we believe this to be a good pool filter worth taking a look at.

PROS:

  • This filter doesn’t need to be back washed.
  • It filters up to 325 square feet.
CONS:

  • This product costs more than some other filters.

Also Recommended: Hayward W3S180T92S ProSeries 18-Inch Sand Filter System

For people who always claim that all sand filters are the same, we’d like to present the Hayward W3S180T92S ProSeries. This 18-inch above ground pool filter has the features and the power that pool owners need. It has an 18-inch polymeric tank that’s equipped with a 7-position control valve and has a 1 horsepower PowerFlo Matrix pool pump. It’s one a one-piece deluxe base that comes with a 1.5-inch hose package. All the pool owner has to do is buy the 150-ponds of sand it requires, and they’re ready for some sweet summer fun.

This filter uses No.20 Silica Sand, which allows it to filter up to 35-gallons of water per minute. This product has a large pressure sand/water drain that allows the system to be quickly drained so that it can be serviced or to shut it down for the winter months. It also features a pump to filter union connection that makes winterization and initial installation a lot easier than other filters make it. And because it utilized an umbrella fold self-cleaning system, it provides efficient flow for sustained performance.

Probably the best thing about this pump, however, is that it’s made by Hayward—a company that is known for making quality filters. With proper installation and maintenance, we can easily see this pump lasting the user for years. That makes it already reasonably price even more reasonable. All of this just means that we feel that this above ground pool filter is one of the best ones that a pool owner can purchase. We found ourselves quite impressed by it and say its potential from the very beginning.

PROS:

  • This pool filter is designed to last for years.
  • It does an excellent job of filtering up to 35-gallons per minute.
CONS:

  • It might be difficult for some pool owners to setup.

Also Consider: Intex 28635EG Krystal-Clear Cartridge Filter Pump

This filter is specifically designed to handle the filtering needs of above ground pools. This product is designed for an 18-foot set pool or frame pools that measure 16 or 18-feet. This filter can also be used with an oval frame pool that’s no more than 20-feet by 12-feet in size. It’s a product that’s also easy-to-install, although the pool owner should be aware that they might have to buy adapters for it depending on what type of pool they have. Once the filter is installed, it’s capable of pumping 1,500 gallons per hour and has a system flow rate of approximately 1,180 gallons per hour.

This is a double insulated pump that has a replaceable filter cartridge that should be replaced once every 2-weeks for best results. It also has an auto-time that can be preset for cycles that range from 2-12 hours at a time. Additional features found on this pool include a sediment flush valve and an air-release valve that can release air that has been trapped inside the filter chamber. Also included with this filter is a hydro aeration inlet fitting. Taking all of these features into consideration, we’re quite confident in recommending this filter to any above-ground pool owner. In fact, we do think that this is an exceptional pool filter that will be appreciated by just about anyone.

PROS:

  • It filters 1,500-gallons of water per hour.
  • It has an automatic timer.
CONS:

  • The pool owner may need additional adapters for installation.

Above Ground Pool Filter

No matter how clean you think you can keep your pool, an above ground pool filter is an essential purchase. Even if the pool cam with one when you bought it, there are plenty of reasons why upgrading is a good idea.

They are one of the most important features of any pool. After trapping dirt and small pieces of debris, the filter pushes out clean water back into the pool so why compromise on a low-quality product?

To make sure you end up with the best above ground pool filter for your needs, we have created the following buyer’s guide.

What To Look Consider In An Above Ground Pool Filter

Microns

The tinier the microns the above ground pool filter can remove, the clearer your pool will be. Most products will be able to filter particles as small as 20 microns at the least, with other filters like a cartridge filter being able to remove smaller particles of 15 microns.

Pool Size

An above-ground pool filter needs to have the capability to remove dirt and debris from your pool size. The tank size is what you should look for and anything that is 12 inches should be able to clear 3,000 gallons easily.

The brand you are considering should give you an indication as to how many gallons it can clean.

Flow Rate

When looking at a cartridge above ground pool filter you need to take a look at its flow rate. This is an indication as to how quickly it can clean certain capacities.

For example, it might take 12 hours for it to clean a pool of 12,000 gallons if it doesn’t have a flow rate of at least 25 GPH.

Compatibility

The above ground pool filter needs to work in conjunction with your pool pump. Some products are not suitable for the other accessories being used. A compact or small filter will not work well with a large flow rate so make sure it can keep up.

Connecting valves are another consideration, is the filter compatible with the return lines that you will be connecting it to?

Ease Of Installation

An above-ground pool pump shouldn’t take too long to install, especially when compared to the in-ground products. Although it varies depending on the type of filter and brand, most are easily installed within an hour.

Some take less than 15 minutes to get up and running and with the help of YouTube, it shouldn’t be too challenging.

Although the in-ground filters often require a professional to help with the trickier parts, this is not usually the case for above ground pool filters.

Warranty

Because there are all sorts of intricate parts that make an above ground pool filter, things can go wrong. Even the reputable brands are not immune to having faults that occur with their products.

This is why we advise looking for a product that comes with a warranty. Even if it’s only for a year or two, it will protect your purchase for that time.

Durability

When you look after your filter properly, it should give you plenty of years of use before you need to replace it. With cartridge filters, you do need to remove and clean the filters frequently but other than that, they are often low maintenance and should last well over 10 years.

Different Types of Above Ground Pool Filter

Sand Filter

This system is one of the most common and is also very economical. They remove dirt and debris via backwashing the water and are fine for particles of around 20 microns.

Just as a point of reference, the human eye can’t see anything under 40 microns small.

One of the easiest to maintain they are usually pretty affordable and should last anywhere from 5-15 years depending on how well you look after it and the quality of the model.

Cartridge Filter

These are one of the newer methods available and can clear smaller particles than sand filters (at around 15 microns). Often considered the higher-spec of the two, a cartridge filter requires the removal and cleaning of the filters for them to work at their best.

DE Filter

Because they can remove tiny dirt of around 2 microns small, they are often good options. With a similar method to sand filters they are considered the elite type of above ground pool filter but this is reflective in the price.

How Much Does An Above Ground Pool Filter Cost?

With plenty of variables that influence the price, there is no set amount when it comes to these pool filters.

However, you can pick up a budget option for a smaller pool for under $100. The larger your pool, the more expensive the filter will be as it will need to be a higher spec to keep up with the demands of removing smaller particles from a large space.

The high-end products can cost as little as $400 and should come with a decent warranty.

Does An Above Ground Pool Need A Filter?

Any pool that you use regularly will need a filter to keep the water clean. Without it, you will find it difficult to keep on top of the clearing of small particles and a pool net can only do so much.

How Long Should An Above Ground Pool Filter Run?

To keep the pool water as clean and clear as possible, you need to run the pool filter for at least 8 hours every 24. This is why it is important to look for an economical product.

This is the same for any type of pool.

How Long Should I Run My Pool Filter After Shocking?

Once the chemicals are in the water, it is a good idea to run the pool filter for 24 hours. This helps to circulate the chemicals and once algae and bacteria have been removed from the walls, they do not settle.

Make sure you measure the appropriate amount of shock for your pool size and spread it evenly before running the filter.

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