Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best Pool Filters

Updated August 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 10 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 7 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best pool filters

    Last Updated August 2018

    A backyard pool is a place where the kids can play and the adults can find relief from those sweltering days of summer. It is a languid oasis free from the hustle of day-to-day living. But only if you have a properly working pool filter.

    A pool filter is the crucial component that keeps your backyard paradise from turning into an unusable swmp. Filtration rids your water of unhealthy and hazardous debris. It is the first step in creating and maintaining a safe swimming environment for you and your family. A properly working pool filter is what allows you to achieve that pristine sparkle that makes a pool so inviting.

    But a filter is also part of a complicated system. There is a science behind keeping water clean and if you don't understand how it all works, no amount of "quick fix" additives will help.

    BestReviews is here to provide clear and concise information to help you purchase with confidence the products you need. After you read through this guide, jump back to the top of the page to see what our research has uncovered about some of the best pool filters on the market.

    You don’t need to run your pool pump all day long. If you have a properly sized pump, water only needs to be circulated for eight hours each day.

    How does a pool filter work?

    No offense, but your pool water has a ton of undesirable elements in it. If neglected, you'd quickly see the effect in your water quality. Luckily, you have a filter – and a pump that directs your pool's water to that filter. It's a never-ending process, but it works very well. There are three types of pool filters.

    Sand filter

    This type of pool filter is filled about halfway with pool filter sand (#20 silica sand). Water enters the top of the filter and as it makes its way to the bottom, all the undesirable microscopic particles get caught in the sand, allowing only clean water to exit the filter and pump back into your pool.

    Pros

    • Inexpensive (low-end models)

    • Easy to maintain

    • Lasts five to seven years
       

    Cons

    • Cleaning (backwashing) wastes lots of water

    • Filters particles of about 20 microns

    • Least energy efficient
       

    Price: Sand filters cost approximately $100 to $1,250.

    Cartridge filter

    This type of pool filter contains a cartridge that looks like a thick, pleated tube, made from material that can trap particles. Water enters the filter on the outside of the cartridge and passes through to the center of the cartridge before heading back into your pool.

    Pros

    • Effective at lower speeds

    • No backwashing needed

    • Filters particles as small as 6 microns
       

    Cons

    • More labor intensive

    • Pressure reading not always accurate

    • Lasts up to three years
       

    Price: Cartridge filters cost approximately $200 to $1,400.

    D.E. filter

    This type of pool filter uses a powdery substance called diatomaceous earth to trap particles. Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, oxygen-producing microorganisms that number in the trillions and can be found in oceans, waterways, and soil. This fine-grained substance coats mesh-lined grids through which the water is forced. This filter acts much like a hybrid of sand and cartridge filters.

    Pros

    • Keeps water the cleanest

    • Easy to add more D.E. through skimmers

    • Filters particles as small as 2 microns
       

    Cons

    • Cleaning (backwashing) wastes a lot of water

    • D.E. must be replenished after cleaning

    • Most labor intensive

    • D. E. harmful if inhaled
       

    Price: D. E. filters cost approximately $250 to $1,000.

    The dirtier a sand filter gets, the more effective it becomes in removing unwanted particles from your pool water. Unfortunately, the water pressure also escalates with a dirty sand filter, and that is not a good thing.

    Pool filter pumps

    On its own, a filter isn't very effective. If the water isn't drawn through the filtering material, it can't get cleaned, and to move the water you need a pump. To function properly, the pump needs to be strong enough to filter all the water in your pool in eight hours.

    Determining the right size pump for your pool involves a bit of math. You'll need to know flow rate and resistance (if you have an inground pool).

    • Flow rate: To figure out the flow rate, take the total number of gallons your pool holds, divide by 8, and divide that number by 60. That gives you the gallons per minute that your pump needs to move in order to filter all the water in your pool in eight hours.

    • Resistance: To figure out the resistance (also called feet of head), measure the distance from the pump to each skimmer and drain. Add those numbers together. Divide that total by the number of skimmers and drains in your system. That number is your feet of head.
       

    There are two final things you'll need to know before purchasing the perfect pump: the type of mount you'll need and the voltage your pump requires.

    • Mount: There are two mounting options for pool pumps.

      • If your filter has an intake on the top, you'll need a top mount pump.

      • If the intake is on the side, you'll need a side mount pump.

    • Voltage: There are two options for voltage: 110 volts and 220 volts. Check the label on the housing of your pump or the owner's manual to find the voltage your pump requires. (It is extremely dangerous to have mismatched voltage!)
    DID YOU KNOW?

    How big is a micron? Take one inch and divide it into 25,400 parts. One of those parts is a micron.

    Pump filter maintenance

    All pool filters need to be cleaned. As a general rule, whenever your filter system's pressure climbs 8 to 10 psi over the normal operating pressure, it's time to clean your filter.

    • Sand filters and D.E. filters

    For these pool filters, you will use a process called backwashing to clean out your system. This means reversing the flow of water to dislodge all the particles that the filter has trapped. This process wastes a great deal of water. (Check with your township to see if there are any restrictions on discharging the backwash to avoid being fined.)

    • Cartridge filters

    These pool filters only require a thorough hosing. Start at the top, work your way down, and spray in between all the pleats and inside, too. Flip the cartridge over and repeat the process. As you clean, inspect the cartridge to be sure there are no signs of damage. Even a small tear can significantly decrease your filter's performance.

    EXPERT TIP

    Environmentally conscious? A cartridge filter conserves water and is the least hazardous to the environment because it doesn’t need to be backwashed.


    Tips

    Your pool's filter is the most important component when it comes to keeping your water clean and swimmable. The following are a few other items that can help you maintain pristine pool water.

    • Use a leaf skimmer. This net on a long pole can snatch up debris sitting on top of the water before it becomes waterlogged and sinks to the bottom of your pool.

    • Keep the pool skimmers clean. Built into the pool along the water line, these openings serve three purposes. First, they collect surface debris before it can sink to the bottom of the pool. Second, the pump draws from these locations in order to keep the water circulating. Third, these are where you connect the pool vacuum hose when you want to clean up debris that has sunk to the bottom of the pool.

    • Try an automatic pool cleaner. A pool cleaner crawls along the bottom of your pool, picking up debris in much the same way a robotic vacuum cleans the floor of your home.

    • Don’t forget chemicals. There are many chemicals that can be added to pool water to disinfect, sanitize, and keep the pH at a comfortable level. Chemicals should be added slowly and with a great deal of caution. If you add too much, not only is it extremely hard to achieve that vital balance again but it can also cause harm to anyone who enters the water.
    Purchasing a bigger pump for your pool won’t clean the water more quickly. It will, however, significantly raise your electric bill.

    FAQ

    Q. What level should the water be at when my pool is full?

    A. A pool works best when the water level is between one-third and one-half way up the opening of the pool skimmer. If the water level is too high, the skimmers won't work. If it is too low, you run the risk of sucking air into your system, which can cause the pump to lose its prime.

    Q. Is a saltwater pool better than a chlorine pool?

    A. Both pools employ chlorine in the sanitation process. The difference is in a chlorine pool, chlorine is administered directly by the user, while saltwater pools convert the salt to chlorine through electrolysis.

    Q. Why is it important to shower before entering a pool?

    A. You might not realize it, but your body is covered in chemicals: soap, conditioner, shampoo, hair gel, perfume, makeup, sunblock. Any of these can negatively impact the cleanliness and chemical balance of the water and cause undesirable buildup on your filter's cartridge. Think of what the water in your tub looks like after a bath. That's the gunk you're trying to keep out of your pool water!

    The team that worked on this review
    • Allen
      Allen
      Writer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer