Are you planning on building your first above-ground swimming pool? Yes? Then you might be in search of an above ground pool filter suited for your brand new pool.
You might be currently researching what the best pool filter for an above-ground pool is. And with lots of available options, you may be overwhelmed.
But here we are to the rescue! This article will teach you the importance of having a pool filter system, selecting the right filter, and the best available options in the market.
Why Pool Filters Are Important For Above Ground Pools
Pool filters are essential to keep a swimming pool clean. It is a basic part of the pool filtration system along with the pump, pipes, and valves.
To understand why it’s essential, we need to know first how the pool filtration system works. As the water in your pool circulates into the filtration system through the force applied by the pump. And as the water circulates, the filter removes dirt, debris, and other particles that contaminate the water. This continuous filtration process keeps the pool water clean and clear. 
Even though most above-ground pools are small, having a pool filter is still essential unless you want to replace the water after every use, which is quite wasteful and costly.
Quoting Patrick Ness, an American writer, “A man without a filter, is chaos walking.” True enough, installing a pool without filters allows contaminants in the pool that can create health chaos and problems in the family.
Now that we’ve established its importance let’s now move on to knowing the factors that constitute the best above-ground pool filter.
How To Select The Best Filter For An Above Ground Pool
Frankly speaking, there is no absolute best above-ground pool filter. However, there is a pool filter best suited for your needs. There are four steps that we’ll talk about that you’ll need to consider in order to buy the best pool filter suited for your above-ground pool.
Compute The Pool Size
The first step to selecting the best-suited above ground pool filter for your pool is to compute your pool size. It’s essential to understand the volume of your pool to ensure you get an above ground pool filter that can efficiently handle the water capacity. When we discuss pool size in this context, we’re not referring to the perimeter measurements or the depth of the pool, but rather the total volume of the pool.
Typically, since above-ground pools come pre-made and only require assembly, the pool volume is mentioned in the product specification. This makes it easier for homeowners to choose an appropriate above ground pool filter. However, if you misplaced the pool brochure or can’t locate the specifications online, you’ll need to determine the volume manually.
To accurately compute the pool volume using manual measurements, measure the perimeter of the pool and multiply it by its depth. Once you have the volume, it’s crucial to convert this measurement into gallons to determine the right above ground pool filter capacity. Modern smartphones often feature calculators with conversion tools to assist with this. If your device doesn’t have this feature, use the conversion multipliers: 7.48 for volume in cubic feet and 264.172 for volume in cubic meters. This will give you a clear idea of what size of above ground pool filter you should be considering.
Choose The Type Of Filter To Use
There are three types of filters that you can use for an above-ground pool. These types of filters have their own pros and cons, which we’ll be talking about briefly. Take a moment to consider and compare each one which type will suit your needs best.
Sand Pool Filters
These filters are the cost-effective options out of the three available options. It uses sand as its filter medium, but you can replace it with alternative filter media such as glass and zeolite.
Although sand filters can only filter up to 20 microns, which removes most dirt and debris, you can pair it with a chemical treatment to effectively make the water clean.
Cartridge Pool Filters
This type of filter uses fabric-like material to remove dirt, debris, and particles in the pool water. As the name implies, cartridge filters have cylindrical cartridges in which the filter media is wrapped around.
A cartridge pool filter can remove particles up to 10 microns, much better than a sand filter, but it’s more expensive. So if you’re on a tight budget, then this might not be for you.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Pool Filters
This type of pool filter uses diatomaceous earth powder, fossil remains of aquatic diatoms, as its filter media. The powder is contained in cartridges or septums inside the filter tanks.
A DE filter is the most effective pool filter since it can remove particles up to 1 micron. It is also the most expensive out of the three options. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly and nature-friendly filter, then this might not be for you.
Learn here about the importance of cleaning your pool’s filter as well as the proper procedures to follow.
Check For The Turnover Rate Of The Filters
After computing the pool volume and selecting the pool filter type, the next thing we have to consider is the turnover rate of filters.
In the pool industry, the turnover rate of filter systems refers to the amount of time a volume of water (equivalent to the total pool water of your pool) can make one pass filter in a certain time period.
If you try looking at a pool filter brochure, you can usually see that it has three to four turnover capacity rates with a unit of gallons per hour. The gallons per hour rating indicates how much pool water volume, in gallons, it can filter for every set number of hours.
For example, if we look at this Pentair brochure for their Clean and Clear cartridge pool filter.  On their CCP240 filter, you’ll notice that there are three turnover capacities indicated: 43,200 gallons per 8 hours, 54,000 gallons per 10 hours, and 64,800 per 12 hours. What this means is that it can filter 43,200 gallons of pool per 8 hours.
The Dilution Effect
You might wonder why the specifications have this weird hourly rating of 6, 8, 10, and 12 instead of the usual 25 hours. The reason? Dilution effect.
The natural dilution effect states that although by computation, the amount of pool water that passed through the filter is equal to the total pool volume, it does not guarantee that all contaminants have been filtered. This is because the newly filtered water mixes with the unfiltered pool water.
That is why it is recommended for a swimming pool to make four or more complete pass-throughs to ensure maximum filtration. And this diluting effect is the reason why they use an hourly rating instead of using a rating per day. 
So let’s say that you have a 15,000-gallon pool. You’ll need to find a pool filter that can filter that amount in six hours. But you still need to consider if you want to operate the filter system for 24 hours. If not, then you’ll need to adjust the selected pool filter accordingly. But remember that it is still your choice if you want to follow the recommended number of turnovers per day.
Ensure That The Pump And Filter Matches
A pool filter alone is not enough. You’ll also need the right pool pump to induce water circulation in the system. Selecting the right pump will ensure two things: high filter efficiency and high power efficiency.
To know the best-suited pump, take a look at the product specification of your filter. You’ll find the gallons per minute (GPM) rating that it needs.
Let’s take a look again at the previously mentioned Pentair filter. Notice that the flow rate needed is 90 GPM for the CCP240. So you’ll need to find a pump with the same GPM rating.
Manufacturers make this pool pump selection process easy by offering filter system bundles that include filters and pumps together. So you can skip this step by buying these bundles. Again, the choice is up to you.
The Role of Filters and Pumps
Maintaining a pristine pool isn’t just about water. It’s about the systems behind it.
The ground pool pump is like the heart of your pool, circulating water and preventing stagnation. As it pumps, it pushes water through filters that ensure clean water returns by trapping debris. Tailoring your equipment is crucial; a smaller pool needs a smaller filter, while larger pools demand bigger ones.
Among popular filters is the Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump, which uses sand to trap impurities. Then there’s the Ground Pool Filter Systems, specifically the D.E. filters. They provide exceptional clarity, filtering to 5 microns, but might lose pressure faster and need more upkeep than sand or cartridge systems.
Lastly, investing in top-notch above ground pool filter replacement filters helps keep your system optimal and the water clear. In short, choosing the right equipment is vital for both clarity and safety.
The Best Above Ground Pool Filters In The Market
Now that we’re done with understanding how to select the best-suited filter for you let’s take a look at the best above-ground filters when it comes to cost, reliability, and features. While looking through the pool filter selection, try to compare and see what best fits your needs and budget.
If you have decided to get a sand filter after careful consideration, then below are the great sand pool filters you can find in the market.
Hayward ProSeries Sand Filter System
This product series of Hayward is one of its best-selling sand filter products. The tank body is made from corrosion-proof molded polymeric and includes a high-quality no. 20 silica sand.
Its design features a top integrated diffuser that ensures equal water distribution over the sand filter media. Below the filter tank, you’ll find the 360° self-cleaning slotted laterals that have precision installed in a ball-joint assembly, making it easy to maintain and easy to install.
The ProSeries Sand Above Ground Pool Filters also feature a 7 position valve above the filter tank that gives you great control over the above ground pool filter operation. Select from the filter, rinse, backwash, waste, winter, closed, or recirculate operation depending on what operation or maintenance procedure you’re doing for the above ground pool filter.
In the product array of the Hayward ProSeries above ground pool filter, there are currently seven products in this series. Turnover rates for these above ground pool filters range from 12,000 to 21,120 gallons every 8 hours, and the pump design flow rates from 25 GPM to 44 GPM. Hayward also offers bundles or packages that include the matching sand filter pump and electronic controls for the above ground pool filter.
The price of the Hayward ProSeries above ground pool filter ranges from $300 to $500 depending on the specifications and inclusions that you’ll want. Hayward provides a 1-year warranty for their above ground pool filter products.
Pentair Sand Dollar Filter System
The Sand Dollar Filter Series of Pentair is a well-known product in the line of sand filters due to being reliable but cost-effective. This series features a blow-molded one-piece solid thermoplastic tank giving it great durability, pressure resistance, corrosion-proof, and long equipment life. 
This product series features a top-mounted six-function multiport valve, including a pressure gauge and air release valve making it easy to install and easy to maintain. The six functions of the valve are filter, backwash, winterizing, waste, rinse, and recirculate.
One of its main selling points is that its internal design maximizes the sand surface area and keeps the sand level balanced throughout the sand pool filter operation. Maximizing this sand surface area enables better water filtering capacities and effective backwashing.
In the Sand Dollar Above Ground Pool Filter Series, there are five available options to choose from. The turnover rate specifications for these above ground pool filters range from 16,800 to 36,000 gallons of water every 8 hours, and the pump design flow rates range from 35 GPM to 75 GPM.
The price of the Pentair Sand Dollar Above Ground Pool Filter System ranges from $300 to $600 depending on the specifications and inclusions that you’ll want. Pentair also provides a 1-year warranty for their above ground pool filter products.
Doheny Sand Filter System
The Sand Filter Series of Doheny is one of the great but affordable sand filters on the market. This series is a blow-molded top mount sand filter that’s built to last over the years. Due to its design, the Doheny Sand Filter is easy to install and easy to maintain. 
Like other above ground pool filter brands, the Doheny Sand Filter also features a top-mounted multiport valve that provides excellent control over the filter operation. Select from filter, rinse, backwash, waste, winter, closed, or recirculate operation depending on what you need during pool operation. The valve also has a built-in pressure gauge and sight glass specific for above ground pool filter systems.
The Doheny Sand Filter Series for above ground pools has four available options of different sizes, pounds of sand it can hold, and turnover capacities. Its capacities range from 16,800 gallons to 24,000 gallons of water in 8 hours. Aside from using sand, this above ground pool filter can also replace the filter media with either silica sand, zeolite sand, or the Aqualoon filter balls.
The price of the Doheny Sand Filter Series for above ground pools ranges from $300 to $500 depending on the specifications that you want. For those looking for a complete setup, you can also opt to buy it with a matching above ground pool filter pump and a filter base.
Raypak Protégé SF Pool Sand Filter System
The Protégé Sand Filter of Raypak is also one to watch out for since it is well known in the pool industry as one of the best sand filters at keeping the water of your swimming pool crystal clear. Although quite pricey when you compare it with other mentioned options here, it’s worth every penny. 
Considering that the Protégé Sand Filter uses heavy-duty and corrosion-proof materials, so expect that it will last for years. This filter, designed to have an easy-to-install feature that can snap onto any existing pool filter.
The prices of the Protégé Sand Filter Series can range from $400 to $700 depending on the filter designed capacity. You can also opt to buy it as a package that includes a sand filter pump and base. Sadly, Raypak doesn’t offer a 1-year warranty and only has a 90 day warranty period.
Now, if you’re looking for better filtering abilities and you have a budget for it, why not try to take a look at the great cartridge filters listed below. Cartridge filters are also quite compact when compared to a sand filter and a D.E. filter. So if you’re looking for something less bulky, then you might want to check out these filters.
Hayward EasyClear and Micro StarClear Filter System
The EasyClear and Micro StarClear Series of Hayward is a bundle combination from two of their great pumps and filters. That is why it is one of the best options that you can find in the market. 
The EasyClear product series is a filter designed specifically to be above-ground pool filters. It is made up of high-density acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) so it’s very durable, weather-resistant, and corrosion-resistant.
In the EasyClear product series, there are two models available: C400 and C550. The C400 offers a 50 GPM flow rate design and a turnover rate of 24,000 gallons of water every 8 hours. In comparison, the C550 has a 70GPM flow rate design and a turnover rate of 33,600 gallons of water every 8 hours.
The prices of the EasyClear product series range from $500 to $1,400 depending on the capacity you’ve chosen, and the inclusions such as the cartridge filter pump.
Pentair Clean And Clear Cartridge Filter System
The Clean And Clear Cartridge Filter Series of Pentair is one of the best above-ground pool filters in the market. It offers high pool filter performance with low maintenance required. 
The tank design is built of a two-piece fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene for strength, chemical resistance, and maximum durability. Each of the parts is securely connected by the innovative locking ring.
It also includes a pressure gauge and Pentair’s High Flow™ Manual Air Relief Valve which helps it relieve air pressure to ensure maximum pool filter efficiency. Unlike other brands and models, these product series offer a 2-inch plumbing system to improve the water flow rate.
In the series, there are five models available varying in capacities but all are energy-efficient. When talking about its turnover rate, the capacities range from 24,000 gallons to 72,000 gallons every eight hours, and the pump design flow rate from 50 to 150 GPM.
Depending on the selected model and inclusions, such as a cartridge filter pump, prices can range from $500 to $1,200.
Doheny Cartridge Filter System
The above-ground pool filters of Doheny’s Cartridge series are mostly made for small pools with capacities of around 10,000 gallons to 24,000 gallons. 
Its body is made up of thermoplastic material so it’s durable and resistant to corrosion and weather. The cartridge is made up of non-woven fabric that has a high filtering ability and is very energy efficient.
The prices range from $200 to $400 depending on the selected model and inclusions such as electronics and pump.
Raypak Protégé Pool Filter Cartridge System
The Protégé series also includes cartridge types for above ground pool filters. For this line of product, Ray uses a UV resistant thermoplastic material so it is durable and resistant to corrosion. 
The Protégé line of products have been intentionally designed to make cleaning easy. It even has a large pump basket with a transparent lid that lets you check the level of dirt and debris at a glance. So you’ll easily know when it’s time to backwash or not.
For its prices, it can range from $500 to $1,200 depending on what your inclusives are, such as a pump, heater, or installation services.
Diatomaceous Earth Filters
Last but not the least in our list of recommendations are diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filters. These are for those that want the best filtering ability for their above ground pools to keep it crystal clear and have a large amount of budget available for it.
Hayward Perflex Extended Cycle DE Pool Filter System
The Perflex Extended Cycle is one of the best D.E. pool filter that you can find in the market. Hayward enables this product through innovation and excellent design to become power-efficient and provide high filter performance. 
The body of the product is made from injection-molded high strength polymer, so it’s very reliable and corrosion resistant. On top of the tank, you’ll find a pressure gauge and an air release valve that ensures optimal filtration.
This product series utilizes Hayward’s patented tube design that efficiently reuses and mixes the D.E. filter media with the trapped dirt mixture and form a fresh filtering surface that keeps pool water clean.
One of its best features is the extended cycle which means that it doesn’t need to be backwashed. Which means more operating life for the D.E. filter media, since backwashing removes some of the D.E. powder.
The prices of the Hayward Perflex D.E. Pool Filter can range from $700 to $1,400 depending on what inclusions such as a pump or heater. Hayward provides a one year warranty for their products.
Pentair EasyClean Above Ground D.E. Filter System
The EasyClean product series is a top-end above ground pool filter from Pentair. It utilizes an auto-regenerative EasyClean technology that ensures uniform water flow and regenerates D.E. powder during off-cycle operation. 
In this product series there are two available models: EC60 and EC90.The EC60 features a 60GPM pump flow rate design and a turnover rate of 28,800 gallons every 8 hours. While the EC90 has a 90GPM pump flow rate design and a turnover rate of 43,200 gallons every 8 hours.
On the top of the tank, you’ll find a pressure gauge and the patented High Flow Manual Air Relief Valve of Pentair that continuously removes air pressure to ensure optimal filtering operation. Pentair pairs the EasyClean product with its OptiFlo pump to ensure the best filtration performance.
The price ranges from $600 to $1,400 depending on the bundles or packages included in the purchase. Pentair has a one year warranty for their products.
WaterWay ClearWater II DE Filter System
This product series from WaterWay is also a great option if you’re looking for a DE filter for an above ground pool. The ClearWater II uses spiral laminar flow inside the system to ensure uniform water distribution over the filtering media. 
Aside from the spiral laminar flow, it also utilizes hydraulic regeneration to maximize the usage of the DE powder inside the system.
The body of the ClearWater II is made out of a glass-filled polymer body, giving it high chemical resistance, flexibility, and improved durability. At the top of the body you’ll find the pressure gauge and a low-profile air relief plug.
In the ClearWater II product series, there are two models available: the FD12-7 and FD18-7. The FD12-7 offers a turnover rate of 21,120 gallons every 8 hours and a pump flow rate of 44 GPM. While the FD18-7 has a turnover rate of 32,160 gallons every 8 hours and a pump flow rate of 67 GPM. The prices of these models range from $700 to $1,000.
How do I choose the right filter for my above-ground pool?
Consider factors such as pool size, maintenance requirements, budget, and personal preference for filter efficiency.
Can a filter keep my above-ground pool free from algae and bacteria?
Filters help remove debris and small particles but should be used in conjunction with proper chemical balance and sanitation to control algae and bacteria.
What is the maintenance difference between a sand filter and a cartridge filter?
Sand filters require backwashing and occasional sand replacement, while cartridge filters need regular cleaning and periodic replacement.
What size filter do I need for my pool?
The size depends on your pool’s volume of water. Generally, a filter should be capable of cleaning the entire volume of pool water in about 8 hours.
Is a DE filter better than a sand filter?
DE filters can trap smaller particles than sand filters, offering superior filtration, but they are also more expensive and require more maintenance.
In summary, it’s important to have an above ground pool filter even if you only have a small above-ground pool. Filtering ensures that above ground pools remain clean and clear.
When buying an above ground pool filter, there is no such thing as the ultimate or the best above ground pool filters. Selecting the best one means the right one for your pool. That is why you need to consider many factors such as pool size, filter type, turnover rate, and the pool pump capacity.
There are many great pool filters to choose from in the market. You can try choosing from great brands such as Hayward, Pentair, Doheny, RayPak, and WaterWay.
Although these are great brands that have excellent products you’ll have to apply what you’ve learned, consider your needs, and weigh your options to get the right and best filter for your pool.
To maintain your pool’s cleanliness and hygienic feel, consider backwashing your pool’s filter as well. Read more about it here. Learn why a pool filter is essential and how to choose the right one for your home.