Best Pool Filter for Inground and Above Ground Pools

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Keeping your pool clean is crucial to how much you and your loved ones can enjoy a swim. No one wants to swim in a cloudy mass of water that might be harboring pathogens. While many people still use chemicals, a more environmentally friendly option is getting the best pool filter.

With a good unit, you can keep your pool water crystal clear and safe to dive in. This article reviews the best pool filters you can buy and the things to think about when making your selection.

Let's begin!

Best Pool Filter

1. Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter

Hayward W3C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter,...
  • ROBUST DESIGN: The Hayward StarClear Plus 120 sq. ft. pool filter...
  • EASIER TO CLEAN: Single-knob design securely fastens filter head...
  • WON'T CORRODE: Single-piece injection molding for base and body...
  • EASY TO USE: Filter head rotates for easy access to the...
  • VERSATILE INSTALLATION: FIP (1½" and 2") and SKT (2")...

The Hayward SwimClear Plus is a 120 square foot, single-element cartridge that ranks first among the best pool filters for small pools. It features a large capacity and is designed for precision and durability thanks to the molded end caps, ensuring maximum flow.

You won't have a hard time using this cartridge pool filter since it has a single locking knob for fastening the filter head to the tank. This means that you won't encounter any nuts or bolts in this model. As such, you don't need technical expertise or specialized tools to set up the Hayward SwimClear Plus.

It is one of the most reliable options since it is reinforced for strength and is corrosion-free because of the single-piece injection-molded base and body. You don't have to worry about the components or frame of this pool filter since it will maintain its high performance for years.

If you need to access the cartridge element, manual air relief valve, or gauge, you can do so through the rotatable filter head. This will ensure you can easily replace or service the parts of this Hayward filter.


  • Easy to clean
  • Quick installation
  • Long-lasting
  • High performance


  • Susceptible to sun damage over time

2. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump

INTEX 28633EG C2500 Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump...
  • FILTER PUMP: The Intex Krystal Clear filter pump with Hydro...
  • COMPATIBLE: The Intex pump is compatible with pools up to 15,200...
  • FEATURES: Pump is double insulated and has a sediment flush and...
  • FLOW RATE: Features a pump capacity of 2,500 GPH and system flow...
  • PRODUCT INFO: The set includes 2 1.25-inch hoses, 1 29005E type B...

The Intex Krystal Clear filter pump is the second-best pool filter you can buy. It features Hydro Aeration Technology which enhances circulation and filtration. It is the ideal choice if you are dealing with an Intex pool, and it's designed to improve water clarity to keep your pool clean.

This pump will work with pools with a capacity of up to 15,200 gallons which makes it a great option for above-ground pools. It is easy to assemble and clean, and its filters are replaceable. The double insulation on this filter pump, along with the sediment flush and air release valves, make this model one of the best ones you can buy.

If you are looking for safety, the Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter will meet your expectations since it has an in-built ground fault circuit. The additional interpreter and strainer basket are meant for prolonging the pump's longevity by sorting maintenance requirements.

This pool pump has a capacity of 2,500 GPH which means it is powerful enough to clean your swimming pool. Thanks to the automatic timer, you can enjoy enough flexibility to set anything from 2 to 12-hour cycles. It is a great option for above-ground pools and is made of durable plastic, making it a heavy-duty pump.


  • Easy installation
  • Energy efficient
  • Convenient timer function
  • High performance


  • It might not work with non-Intex swimming pools
  • Produces some bubbles when operating

3. Rx Clear Radiant Sand Pool Filter System

Rx Clear Radiant 24 Inch Sand Filter System | for...
  • CLEAN AND SAFE WATER - This filter is designed to handle the...
  • WILL IT FIT MY INGROUND POOL? - The Rx Clear Radiant 24-inch sand...
  • EASY TO INSTALL - Labeled ports on the 6-way top mount filter...
  • FILTER MEDIA OPTIONS AVAILABLE - For optimal performance, this...
  • DURABLE - The core of these systems is the one-piece blow-molded...

In third place, we have the Rx Clear Radiant Sand Filter system, which is specially designed to filter modern pools. It is efficient and user-friendly thanks to the straightforward operating system, making it ideal for maintaining a clean above-ground swimming pool.

This 24-inch sand filter is also built for inground pools and can handle up to 33,000 gallons, and can work with a wide variety of swimming pools. Installing this unit is easy since the ports on the filter valve are labeled, and you can easily see them, which is why this is one of the best sand pool filters.

For this model to perform optimally, you'll need six boxes of RX Clear Luster Filter Media, 300 lbs of Silica sand, and 150 lbs of Zeo-Clear Filter Media which are sold separately. At the core, the sand pool filter systems have a core of a one-piece blow-molded tank, while inside, you can find laterals and a sand pipe.


  • Durable construction
  • Easy to assemble
  • Quick installation
  • Machine-wash friendly parts


  • Hoses and filter media come at additional prices

4. Pentair Clean & Clear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter

Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus Fiberglass Reinforced...
  • Clean & Clear Plus pool and spa cartridge filter
  • Large filter area for increased dirt capacity; 1-1/2-inch and 100...
  • Continuous high flow internal air relief and high flow manual air...
  • Injection molded tank and black bulkhead unions; balanced...
  • It has effective filtration area 420-square feet and flow rate is...

We cannot fail to mention the Clean and Clear Plus, a cartridge filter that is designed for the commercial pool industry. As such, it's a great option for a pool of 420 square feet and can operate at a flow rate of 150 GPM.

This NSF-listed product can maintain a high flow rate with a balanced hydraulic flow. The injection-molded tank, tension control pump, and black bulkhead unions are all meant to improve its performance. It's a model that is easy to install and is definitely worth the money.


  • Straightforward installation
  • Easy to clean
  • High filter efficiency
  • Compatible with many pools


  • A bit pricey

5. Hayward Perflex Extended Cycle DE Pool Filter

Hayward EC40AC Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. Pool Filter
  • Clean pools fast, removing particles as small as two microns the...
  • Patented Flex-Tube design gives longer cycles between cleaning...
  • Unique bump mechanism allows DE flex tubes to instantly and...

Lastly, we have the Hayward Perflex D.E Pool Filter, which features diatomaceous earth filters designed for maximum water clarity. You can get longer cleaning cycles, and you can say goodbye to the need for backwashing. As such, if you are looking for a DE filter that can clean your swimming pool in minimal time with high precision, the Hayward DE pool filter is the right pick for you.

The filter tank has a Flex-Tube design that ensures that the DE filter powder is reused repeatedly to result in extended cycles that are great for your pool water. Another advantage o this model is the bumping mechanism that facilitates instant and uniform self-cleaning of the DE flex tubes and Filtration media. This means that this Hayward product is one of the units that require the least maintenance.

As a result, this pool filter is one of the most convenient options you can go for. The high=quality diatomaceous earth filters will perform exceptionally to give you better water clarity and no backwash.


  • Low pool maintenance
  • Improves the clarity of the water
  • Superior filtration
  • Adds sparkle to the pool water


  • Requires some tools for disassembly

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Pool Filter

1. Pool Filter Types

Whether you have an above-ground or in-ground pool, you will need one of three pool filters. Each type of pool filter has its own pros and cons.

i. Sand Filters

Sand filters are the more traditional and commonly used filter systems. They can remove algae, dirt, and sediments with a filter size of between 20 and 40 microns. A sand filter will work by running water through a tank full of graded sand filter media. As water passes through the sand, the particles and impurities get trapped inside while clean water flows back into the pool.

After the sand filter system collects the debris, you'll need to perform a backwash process to flush them out of the filter. You might have to do this every week or few days, depending on your pool water cleaning requirements.

ii. Cartridge Pool Filters

The next type of filter we'll look at is a cartridge filter. It is a device with an inbuilt cartridge that filters out the impurities of your swimming pool. Cartridge filters are typically more efficient than sand filters since they have finer filter media. Nevertheless, the grain size of filter cartridges and filter material could affect the performance of these filters.

They are mostly suitable for small pools and require frequent cleaning, which you can only do manually. This means that you'll have to dismantle and reassemble the filter. However, this is not a hassle compared to backwashing sand filters.

If you want to minimize the need to regularly clean cartridge filters, you can take a larger filter capacity which will delay clogging by providing a larger area for filtering.

iii. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Pool Filters

DE filters work like sand filters because they work by moving water through a mesh filter. However, the mesh is coated with diatomaceous earth powder, making it ideal for trapping out debris. Monitoring the pressure gauge is the best way to determine when you should clean DE filters.

Whenever the pressure increases by 8-10 psi above the standard, it indicates that it's time to backwash the DE filter. Fortunately, this is a no-brainer and only involves removing the valve and placing it backward and letting water flow through.

You'll also have to flush the pool filter with a hose to remove the DE powder you'll have to replace as you turn the pump on again. Unfortunately, these pool filters are among the most expensive models while also being one of the most efficient. Plus, DE powder is considered a carcinogen which makes it dangerous to handle without precaution.

2. Compatibility

The performance of pool filters depends on whether you can integrate them into your existing pump system because it's necessary to push the water through the filter. Different pool filters are designed with various flow levels, which means that a small filter won't work well with a powerful pump.

As such, you'll need to think about the connecting valves and adapter plugs if you are connecting an incompatible filter to a pump. This could easily be the case when you want to install an Intex filter to a non-Intex pump.

3. Ease of Installation

Manufacturers include instruction manuals and installation videos to make it easy for users to set up the filters for their pools. Some even add some accessories to ensure you can have a tool-free installation process.

As a result, some units can be up and running in as little as ten minutes, while others need up to an hour of work. The amount of time and effort needed will depend on the exact model you select. Nevertheless, the most suitable option doesn't require you to hire a professional for help.

All you should have to do is figure out how to connect the filter to the pump, but if you don't feel confident enough to handle this by yourself, you can have someone come over to help you out.

4. Durability

As a pool owner, you should invest your money in a model that will last for decades while operating efficiently. This will mostly depend on the type of materials used to make the filter. Cheaper models will use components that won't perform as well as those in more expensive units.

As you think about what type of filter is the best for your in-ground pool or above ground pool, you should consider how long you want them to last.

5. Maintenance

The maintenance requirements of the pool filter also matter in your search for the right pool filter. This is because the level of maintenance the pool filter needs will determine how frequently you'll need to clean or replace your filters. A low-maintenance option is ideal for any pool but, it will depend on the specific filter you select.

6. Pool Size

Finally, the last thing is whether you have a large size or small size pool. You'll want a filter whose capacity and performance match the size of your pool. If you take a low-performance filter to a large pool, it won't work as well as it should.

The amount of water the filter will be handling is essential to your decision. As such, you'll need to look for viable options in terms of matching the functionality of the pool filter with the size of your swimming pool.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Pool Filter

1. What is the best filter for an above-ground pool?

The Hayward SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter is the best filter you can buy for your above-ground pool.

2. Is a bigger pool filter better?

Yes, bigger is better in this case because a larger filter will require less maintenance and will work more efficiently.

3. Which is better, sand or DE pool filter?

If you are on a tight budget, a sand pool filter is a more affordable and easy-to-use option, but if you want high performance, a D.E filter will work better but at a higher cost. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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