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Best Sand Pool Filter 2024

Updated January 2024
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Best of the Best
Intex 26645EG Sand Filter Pump, 12-inch
Sand Filter Pump, 12-inch
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Best filter for medium-size pools
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A customer favorite, this top-performing Intex sand pump gives pool owners the clear water they crave.


The 120-volt sand filter includes a pump with 0.30 horsepower. It holds 50 pounds of sand and has a system flow rate of 1,000 gallons per hour.


This filter is priced slightly higher than comparable models, but it offers excellent performance.

Best Bang for the Buck
Hayward W3S166T ProSeries Sand Filter
ProSeries Sand Filter
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Best all-weather pool filter
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A year-round sand filter for aboveground pools with easy winterizing.


This all-weather 16-inch pool filter resists corrosion and has a self-cleaning system. Its top diffuser has seven settings for different pressures.


It requires 100 pounds of sand.

Radiant 16-Inch Sand Filter System
16-Inch Sand Filter System
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Best all-in-one filter bundle
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This all-in-one unit for a 16,000-gallon aboveground pool includes pump, filter, hoses and clamps.


The multiport valve can be quickly positioned for any desired operation. It’s compatible with nontoxic Luster Filter Material that is lighter than sand and requires less backwashing.


The hose connections are not as impressive as the unit's filtering capabilities.

Intex 26647EG Sand Filter Pump, 14-inch
Sand Filter Pump, 14-inch
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Best filter for large pools
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This slightly larger sand pump is best for pools that have 5,500 to 17,200 gallons of water.


The included 0.6-horsepower pump has six functions, including filter, backwash and recirculate. It has a digital timer for the 12 preset cycles.


While there are no consistent problems with this model, a variety of minor issues have been noted.

Swimline Hydrotools 14-Inch Sand Filter Combo Set
Hydrotools 14-Inch Sand Filter Combo Set
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Best filter for small pools
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An especially quiet model, this one has a double-reinforced tank and is compatible with other filter brands for easy maintenance.


This 14-inch sand filter is best for pools up to 10,500 gallons. It comes with a 0.4-horsepower pump and has a flow rate of 40 gallons per minute.


Some people find the instructions unclear on certain components.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About 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.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best pool sand filters

If you want to cool off on hot summer days in your own backyard aquatic center, there are a few things to take care of first. Perhaps the most crucial of these is having the correct pool filter. This important piece of pool equipment keeps the water as clear as possible so you don’t encounter floating debris while you swim.

You’ll still need to use chemicals every now and again to treat the pH level of the water, but the filter plays an important role in removing large particles such as leaves and dirt. How does it work? Essentially, a pump sucks water into the filter where it gets pushed through sand to remove any unwanted materials. 

But you can’t just use any old pool filter and pump. For example, you need a pump with the right amount of power for your pool’s water capacity. As you might expect, a smaller pool requires a less powerful pump. If you used that same pump on a large pool, you’d end up with a low flow and partially filtered water. We’ve researched pool sand filters and found the Intex SX2100 Krystal Clear Sand Filter to be the very best for medium-size pools. 

Which pool sand filter is best?

Intex SX2100 Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump

Best filter for medium-size pools

Product Specifications

Dimensions: 22.25” L x 15.38” W x 23.25” H | Weight: 35 lb | Flow Rate: 35 gal per min | Sand Capacity: 50 lb | Maximum Pool Size: 12,800 gal

This sand filter is a great choice for small to medium pools. The water aeration provides improved circulation and filtration, improved water clarity, and increased negative ions at the surface. 

Suited for pools of up to 12,800 gallons, it looks bulky, but it’s a breeze to set up, and the filter comes with detailed instructions. It has a built-in 24-hour timer featuring preset cycles for automatic operation ranging from 2 to 12 hours. The cycles include filter, rinse, backwash and recirculate.

The pump’s capacity is rated at 2,100 gallons per hour, and it has a system flow rate of 1,600 gallons per hour. It uses 50 pounds of #20 silica.

Hayward W3S166T ProSeries Sand Filter

Best all-weather pool filter

Product Specifications:

Dimensions: 16.3” L x 16.3” W x 34.5” H | Weight: 26 lb | Flow Rate: 30 gal per min | Sand Capacity: 100 lb | Maximum Pool Size: NA 

This aboveground pool filter is an excellent choice if you live in an area with variable weather. The filter body is made of extremely durable materials that render it corrosion-proof and low maintenance.

It has a self-cleaning system that keeps debris to a minimum, aiding in efficient water flow and distribution. This makes your pool maintenance job a lot easier. The filter doesn’t need to function at maximum power all the time, as it has a valve with seven positions for the best operation, depending on your needs.

Since it’s an aboveground filter, you must prepare it for colder months. Luckily, it has a large pressure water and sand drain that cleans it out in a few minutes. It uses 100 pounds of sand, which is more than many others require.

Radiant Complete Sand Filter System

Best all-in-one filter bundle

Product Specifications

Dimensions: 21.25” L x 9.75” W x 31.9” H | Weight: 53 lb | Flow Rate: 82 gal per min | Sand Capacity: 110 lb | Maximum Pool Size: 16,000 gal

For a complete pool care package, the Radiant Complete Sand Filter System is a good option for first-time pool filter buyers or consumers looking for an easy-to-use bundle. It includes the Rx Clear Extreme Force pool pump, tank, high-pressure hose, stainless steel clamps, backwash hose fittings and a 6-foot power cord.

The filter sits on a universal base, so you can swap it out if you need to, or you can use your existing filter’s base instead. It has six water flow positions including rinse, backwash and filter, and it uses 110 pounds of sand. 

It’s easy to keep an eye on debris coming through the system courtesy of a clear viewport with a two-piece strainer. If anything gets cycled through the filter, you can quickly stop the operation and remove the object.

Intex SX2800 Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump

Best filter for large pools

Product Specifications

Dimensions: 15.75” L x 23.38” W x 26.25” H | Weight: 43 lb | Flow Rate: 46 gal per min | Sand Capacity: 77 lb | Maximum Pool Size: 17,200 gal

This Intex pool filter is an upgraded version of the SX2100 and is suitable for larger pools up to 17,200 gallons. The 0.6-horsepower pump motor produces a system flow rate of 2,150 gallons per hour and a pump flow rate of 2,800 gallons per hour.

As with most Intex filters, this one comes with all the components you need to get started quickly. It has a 24-hour timer with customizable cycles ranging from 2 to 24 hours and six functions, including the usual rinse, filter and backwash functions.

Using the same filtration method as the SX2100, the Hydro Aeration Technology ensures better circulation and filtration, clearer water and increased negative ions at the water’s surface. It uses up to 77 pounds of sand.

Swimline Hydrotools 14-Inch Sand Filter Combo Set

Best filter for small pools

Product Specifications

Dimensions: 24.4” L x 15.7” W x 19” H | Weight: 22 lb | Flow Rate: 40 gal per min | Sand Capacity: 60 lb | Maximum Pool Size: 10,500 gal

If you have a small pool, this 14-inch sand filter is an excellent choice, as it is best suited for pools up to 10,500 gallons. The double-reinforced tank holds a maximum of 60 pounds of sand, and the 0.4-horsepower pump has a flow rate of 40 gallons per minute.

The filter comes with a universal base, a four-way multi-port valve and a 6-foot cable. Smaller pools are usually found in neighborhoods where the houses are close together, making a pool pump a nuisance. However, this one is designed to operate at a low noise level so you don’t disturb the neighbors.

Another great feature of this pool system is that it’s compatible with other filter brands. That means you can mix and match components when maintenance is required. While it holds 60 pounds of sand, it is also compatible with filter balls.

XtremepowerUS 13-Inch Sand Filter

Best at filtration for small pools

Product Specifications

Dimensions: 17” L x 13” W x 22” H | Weight: 26 lb | Flow Rate: 40 gal per min | Sand Capacity: 42 lb | Maximum Pool Size: 10,000 gal

This aboveground filter and pump system is an apt choice for smaller pools, as the 13-inch tank holds 42 pounds of sand, has a flow rate of 40 gallons per minute and functions best in pools holding up to 10,000 gallons.

XtremepowerUS says it takes less than five minutes to install, as the bundle includes everything you need to get going quickly. It comes with detailed instructions and a useful guide on how the four-way valve works. 

It operates at a low noise level that won’t disturb the neighbors. Notably, the filter is compatible with filter balls if you prefer not to use the traditional sand medium.

Filter type

You have three choices when it comes to pool filters: diatomaceous earth (DE), cartridge and sand.

DE filters offer the highest level of filtration, but it’s an expensive option and demands more time for maintenance. Health concerns surround the type of diatomaceous earth used in pool filters, as it’s a severe irritant if inhaled or if the dust gets in your eyes. 

Cartridge pool filters have a large surface area thanks to their pleated material. They can generally filter out smaller particles (10 to 15 microns) than sand filters, thus making your pool water cleaner. However, the differences are rarely noticed.

On the downside, particles can be forced through the filter material if the water pressure isn't carefully controlled. Slow flow rates, where the water is pushed through the pump at lower pressures, are recommended for best performance. Thus, these filters don’t work well in a large pool of about 15,000 gallons. While the cartridges can be cleaned easily (simply rinse with a hose), they must be replaced more often than sand filters.

Sand pool filters are usually cheaper than their equivalent cartridge models. Many are more compact, too. They are mechanically simple, and most are very durable. Regular cleaning is simply a question of backwashing, which is easy and takes only a few minutes.

On the downside, they don’t filter particles quite as small as cartridge filters (20 to 40 microns), and some water is wasted when you backwash. As such, you might have to top off the pool and occasionally rebalance the chemicals.

In summary, cartridge filters cost more to buy and maintain, but there’s no doubt that they take more debris out of the water if they're running properly. The question is whether the difference in filtration is enough to trouble you.

A micron is tiny at roughly 0.00004 inch. To give the difference some context, most pollen is between 20 and 35 microns. Anything smaller than 35 microns can’t be seen with the human eye. Both filters trap something that size, though neither is fine enough for drinking water. It’s a personal decision, but you can see why many people are happy with the cleanliness rendered by a pool sand filter.


Your choice depends, to some extent, on whether you’re doing a complete pool, pump and filter installation or simply replacing an existing filter. If you’re starting from scratch, buying a filter/pump combination is possible, and it simplifies the process somewhat. If you already have a pump, make sure your pool sand filter can cope with the flow.

Flow rate

Flow rate is given in gallons per hour or gallons per minute. To convert from one to the other, multiply or divide by 60. For example, 40 gallons per minute equals 2,400 gallons per hour. Most setups are designed to pump the entire pool's contents through the filter once every eight hours.

You should know your pump’s flow rate (usually marked on the body) so you can make sure your pool sand filter matches. While it’s not a bad idea to have a slightly oversized filter, it certainly shouldn’t be too small. Too low a flow rate means the pump works harder than it should to push water through, which will shorten its life.

Tank size and construction

Size is another important factor. A pool sand filter usually has an inch rating that tells you the diameter, indicating the amount of sand it contains. This could be 12 inches on very small models, 16 to 24 inches in the middle range, and 30 or more inches on large versions.

Pool specialists caution against trying to save money by installing a model that’s too small. Why? Because the filtration will be reduced. The following are general guidelines:

  • 12- to 20-inch tank: Under 10,000 gallons
  • 21- to 24-inch tank: 10,000 to 20,000 gallons
  • 24- to 30-inch tank: 20,000 to 30,000 gallons
  • 30- to 36-inch tank: 30,000 to 50,000 gallons

As for construction, the filter is either a two-piece item (with a seam down the sides) or a single molded unit. While two-piece tanks aren’t necessarily a problem, there is the potential for weakness in construction. Thus, many prefer paying a little extra for a one-piece model.

Motor size

The size (or strength) of a pool filter motor varies. It’s crucial that you get the correct one for your pool. 

For residential pools like you’ll find in your neighborhood, pump motors usually range from 0.75 horsepower to about 3 horsepower. The most common for aboveground pools, by far, are pumps that operate at less than 1 horsepower, which is also quieter than larger ones.

The indicated horsepower is a measure of how quickly and forcefully the water is pushed through the filter system and back into the pool.

Multi-port valves

These are common and offer a variety of functions at the turn of a switch. The exact function varies, so it’s worth making a comparison. It’s common to have six or seven positions, including backwashing, winterizing and bypass (so if you’re draining the pool, the water doesn’t actually go through the filter).


Timers are sometimes built in automatically. More often, however, they’re an option. A timer certainly adds convenience (if you’re running the filter overnight, for example), but it’s an additional cost in many cases.

Aboveground and in-ground

A pool sand filter may be described as aboveground or in-ground. The difference in pool type is straightforward: one requires an external shell to support the water container, and the other is sunk beneath the ground’s surface. 

As far as the pool filter is concerned, there’s no technical difference. Note that aboveground pools need a smaller filter/pump combination. Hence, you find aboveground pool sand filters as small as 12 inches with under 2,000 gallons-per-hour flow rates. These devices work as efficiently as larger models, but they’re designed for smaller pools.

Pool sand filter prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest pool sand filters are those for aboveground pools and can be under $100. Those that can also serve as in-ground pool filters start around $150.

Mid-range: You have a tremendous choice between $200 and $500, with a wide variety of reliable models from all the top brands. Most pool owners can find what they need in this price bracket.

Expensive: High-capacity filters and filter/pump combinations can push prices up to $1,500. Care is needed at this level because some larger filter bodies don’t include valves that must be specified and purchased separately. That said, a few installations of that capacity will be DIY jobs.

How we analyzed

Taking into account how different pool filters can be, it’s important to analyze all aspects of what they are capable of. For example, if you buy the first and cheapest pool sand filter you see, there’s a good chance it won’t be efficient with your pool.

For that reason, we looked at filters of many sizes, motor strengths, sand mediums and flow rates to determine which ones are best for all kinds of pools. 


Q. Is a pool sand filter difficult to install?

A. If you’re a competent DIYer who is comfortable with plumbing and sorting out electrical connections, there’s nothing very complex, particularly if you’re replacing an existing filter. It’s a little time-consuming, but it isn’t technically challenging. 

A lot of helpful information exists online, much of it from the filter manufacturers. However, if you’re not confident, you may want to hire a qualified installer.

Q. Does a pool sand filter need much maintenance?

A. No. Backwashing (a simple job that briefly changes the direction of the flow) flushes out most of the collected debris and is done approximately every few weeks, depending on pressure buildup. Changing the sand should only be required every few years. 

This is just a general guide. Check your owner’s manual, and adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations to keep your filter running efficiently.

Q. Is the type and quantity of sand important? 

A. Yes. There is understandable confusion between silica sand (widely recommended) and zeolite products (often suggested as an alternative). The problem arises because zeolites typically take up twice the volume, so you only need half the amount.

For example, if a pool filter normally uses 150 pounds of silica sand, you’d only need 75 pounds of zeolites. Despite having bigger granules, zeolites are claimed to offer better filtration of fine particles and dust, which is why they’re popular.

It’s important to follow the advice of the manufacturer or pool installer. Given how infrequently you change the sand, any savings won’t be huge. What’s more, using the incorrect product or quantity can reduce the filter's effectiveness and may even cause damage.

Q.  Do I need pool chemicals if I use a sand filter?

A. Yes, you still need to use chemicals if you have a sand filter. The job of the pump and filter is to keep the water clear from debris. However, it doesn’t correct the pH balance or kill any bacteria. 

Q. Should I run my sand filter all the time?

In most cases, that won’t be necessary, but it depends on the size of your pool. For residential pools, it is best to run the pump and filter for about 8 to 12 hours a day, depending on the season. After heavy rain or long periods of no use, you might want to run it for longer.