Above Ground Pool Filter Reviews – 2015’s Best Above Ground Pool Filters

A swimming pool in the back yard has long been a sought after item. It is so nice to be able to just step out of your door and hop into a swimming pool. There are some things that need to be considered when caring for your pool. One of those things is the kind of filter you should use for your above ground pool. This is a simple guide to find the best above ground pool filters for you.

In ground and above ground pools both take pretty much the same kind of filters. The need is the same so the solution is in large part the same. That being said, it is important to note that not all filter types are the same. There are a few different kinds of filters on the market that use different methods to filter the water in your pool. Some of the types of filters do happen to work better than others, but it is really all about the needs of your specific pool.

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My goal is to walk you through why you need an above ground pool filter, the benefits of having one, the different kinds, the things you should be looking for and lastly, the five models that I think are the best for above ground pools.

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What are the Benefits of Having an Above Ground Pool Filter?

If you have ever had a pool, you know that stuff falls into it and it needs to be cleaned out. Anything from bugs to leaves fall into a pool and makes it look dirty. It is always nice to have an above ground pool filter as it helps the water to be relatively free of debris by means of a filtration system. So, the benefits of having an above ground pool filter are more free time and have to spend less time cleaning your pool.

Why it is Necessary to have a filter?

If your pool did not have a filter you would have to spend a greater amount of time on debris removal. A filter works to remove both large and small debris from the pool water, which can make the water a lot cleaner. This is especially true when you get a high quality filter that can remove even tiny particles that may cloud the pool water and make it look dirty. If you want a clean looking above ground pool, filter is a necessary piece of equipment.

The Different Kinds of Above Ground Pool Filters

On the market, there are three kinds of above ground pool filters. Each kind of filter uses a different method to filter the pool water and the different methods yield individual results. The three kinds of filters are sand, D.E., and cartridge filters.

Sand Filter

Sand filters have been around for the longest amount of time when compared to the other kinds of pool filters. In addition to being the oldest model and are also the most economical choice for an above ground pool filter. However, it is important to point out that sand filters are the least efficient means of filtering your above ground pool. Sand filters remove the least amount of dirt – particles only as small as 20 to 25 microns.You can add flocculent or other filter aids to the sand filter to aid in capturing small particles, but the aids drastically reduce the life of the sand in the filter and create channeling.

If you have a high pump pressure, channels can start to form between the top and bottom filters which is called channeling. What happens with a sand filter is that pool water is pushed through a bed of sand and then removed through pipes with holes that are smaller than the sand. The water is returned to the pool, freer from debris than it had been previously. When the sand in the filter becomes plugged with debris, the pressure on the filter intensifications and the water flow levels drop. To keep the sand filter in good working order, you should clean it as often as once a week when the pool is in use—depending on the size. What you would do to perform maintenance on your sand filter is, backwash the water which means reversing the flow of clean water back through the filter. The issue with backwashing is that lots of water is lost—a few hundred gallons in a typical session. You must replace this water back into the pool after the backwashing is complete.

D.E. Filter

D.E. is the most efficient form of pool filtration system and it stands for Diatomaceous Earth. This filter uses tiny fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms that are mined from the earth. The substance is similar to kitty litter in look, texture and consistency. These tiny fossilized exoskeletons are used to coat grids in the filter and act as strainers to remove debris. It is because of the exoskeletons extremely small size that they can filter out particles incredibly tiny—as small as 4 microns. Therefore, D.E. filters are capable of giving you the cleanest and clearest pool water.

The diatom filter area is typically around 60 to 70 square feet which is in between the sizes of most sand or cartridge filters. The D.E. filter is backwashed just like a sand filter and then more D.E. powder is added to keep the filter working at its best.

It is because the D.E. pool filters get your pool water the cleanest, it is also the most expensive form of pool filter. They are expensive to buy and also operate. The required maintenance that this kind of filter requires may not be what every pool owner is willing to commit to.

Cartridge Filter

Cartridge filters are the newest type of filter to come out. However, just because they are the newest does not mean that they are the most effective. They come in second place, after the D.E. filters. They are able to grab particles that are 15 microns large. It is important to note that these filters are prone to blow-by which allows big particles to get past the filter and back into the pool. Blow-by can be prevented by not having the pool pump on a high setting as it occurs when too much water is pushed through the filter.

How a cartridge filter works is by passing the water through the filter material where the particles are captured. It is similar to the water filter used under a household sink. Cartridges come with a higher square footage capacity than sand—most start at around 100 square feet—but a large majority that are sold are larger than 300 square feet. They are designed to run at a lower water pressure than sand which puts less back pressure on the pump, giving you more flow and turnover for a comparable pump size.

This kind of filter has become extremely popular for use with above ground swimming pools in the past few years. One of the reasons why this kind of filter may have become increasingly popular is that they are fairly easy to clean. They only need to be cleaned one to two times a season and that is done by hosing them off—which doesn’t require a lot of labor. It is recommended that your cartridge filter be replaced every six months, but the lifespan of the filter can be shortened when suntan lotions or other oils are worn while in the pool.

What should you Look for in an A G P Filter?

You should look for the filter that will meet your needs the most efficiently. If you are the most concerned about clear water, a D.E. filter may be what you need. However, if you are on a tight budget or just don’t want to spend a lot on a pool filter, sand may be the way to go for you. If you don’t want to perform a lot of maintenance on your above ground pool filter, or you don’t want to waste a lot of water, a cartridge filter is a good option. Really, it all depends on your needs and wants when it comes to maintenance, performance and affordability.


  • Cleans pool water
  • Removes debris
  • Eliminates cloudiness
  • All Require some amount of maintenance
  • Sand, D.E., or Cartridge options
  • Variety of price points and maintenance needs

5 Best Above Ground Pool Filters

I’ve created a list of the top 5 above ground pool filters for your use. While each kind of filter has its own advantages and drawbacks, you will find that a certain filter will work best for you.

Hayward C751 Star-Clear Plus 75-Square-Foot 1-1/2-Inch FIP Pipe Cartridge Pool Filter

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This is a high quality cartridge above ground pool filter by Hayward. It is made out of reinforced polyester elements that provides a large filtration area. The extruded core design is precision engineered to provide maximum water flow while using the minimum amount of energy which means you save on electricity bills and get a cleaner pool. This model includes a cartridge already installed in the filter so set up is a breeze.

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Hayward C751 Star-Clear Plus 75-Square-Foot 1-1/2-Inch FIP Pipe Cartridge Pool Filter

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This sand filter can hold up to 175 pounds of sand which means that it can trap more debris at a time. The 19 inch blow mold sand filter is made to last a long time and it comes with a top mounted 6 position multiport valve included. The maximum suction that it is capable of doing is 34 ½ square feet and the maximum water temperature that it can withstand is 105° F. At the core of this sand filtration system is a single 110-pound capacity thermoplastic filter tank that is particularly long lasting and corrosion resistant. The design of this pool filter makes maintenance and winterization no problem whatsoever. This is a great model sand filter that is affordable and simple to keep in good condition.

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Hayward S180T Pro Series 18-inch Top-Mount Pool Sand Filter

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The Hayward S180T Pro Series 18-inch Top-Mount Pool Sand filter is meant to be used with above ground pools, small in-ground pools and aquariums. The filter tank itself is crafted from corrosion proof materials that are also color-fast so you don’t have to worry about your filter tank becoming degraded. This model comes equipped with a large pressure drain for both sand and water so winterization can happen quickly, without any headaches.

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Hayward EC50AC Perflex Extended-Cycle Above-Ground / in-ground Pools D.E. Filter

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If you are looking for a great D.E. filter for your above ground pool, this is a great pick. The filter tank is created with injection molded Duralon for durability and performance. A twenty-foot effective filtration area ensures a quick, effective and smooth filtration process that does not require extreme pump pressure to remove debris. This model includes a patented Flex-Tube system that resourcefully re-uses D.E. powder and dirt mixture to make renewed cleaning surfaces. This D.E. filter works with pools that hold up to 19,200 gallons of water.

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Hayward EC40C92S Perflex 1-1/2-Horsepower Extended-Cycle D.E. Filter Pool System

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The Hayward EC40C92S Perflex 1-1/2-Horesepower Extended-Cycle D.E. Filter Pool System is the most expensive model on this top 5 list. That being said, it also has the highest performance out of all of the filters on this list. It features a pump to filter union connection that offers simple maintenance and winterization. The modular platform base is corrosion proof and accepts a chlorine feeder, if you have one that you want to use, but it is not a requirement. This filtration unit is designed for supply ample filtration with less pump power needed which cuts down on the amount of water that you will use as well as the amount of electricity needed to filter the pool.

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The kind of above ground pool pump that you should get depends largely on your personal preferences, amount of time you are willing to put into maintenance and budget. Hopefully, this guide has made you a bit more knowledgeable on the subject., and let you find the best above ground pool filter for you.

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