Top 8 Best Pool Filter Reviews 2019 | DE vs Sand vs Cartridge

The best pool filter can make any pool have crystal clear water. Many brands claim to have the best pool filter, but which filter really stands out depends on your needs.

Swimming pool owners looking for a great pool filter will find this article very helpful.

With 3 different types of pool filters, it's not easy picking the right one. Our buying guide will also help you how to pick the right one for your pool and tell you what you should look for.

We've listed the best pool filters in the market today, with emphasis on filter efficiency, ease of use and installation.

Best Pool Filters Comparison

ModelEditors RatingPriceType 
1. [Best Sand Filter] Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
2. [Best Cartridge Pool Filter] Hayward C900
3. [Best DE Pool Filter] Hayward EC40AC
4. Hayward DE4820 Pro-Grid
5. Hayward S244T ProSeries
6. Pro 2400GPH 13" Sand Filter
7. Hayward Pro Series S210T93S 21-Sand Filter
8. Hayward C12002 Star-Clear

Pool Filter Buying Guide

Many readers love to know how they should be picking the right pool filter for their pool. Before we begin that, we will provide a small brief of the 3 different types of filters: Sand, DE, and Cartridge.

Sand vs DE vs Cartridge Filters

They each of their pros and cons.

1) Price

Pool Sand Filters are the cheapest to purchase, but are in the middle of cost to maintain. If you take good care of your pool it actually requires very little maintenance.

Cartridge Filters can be a little pricier than sand file, and while they don't need backwashing, you may need to chemically clean out your pool to get rid of excess dirt, bacteria, algae, etc.​

DE Filters are probably the most expensive to maintain. They have the highest initial at cost and are $50/year to maintain and fill it up with more DE powder.

2) Cleaning Ability

DE Filters are probably the most effective and can remove particles  as small as 3 microns from the water.

Cartridge Filters are in the middle and can remove things as small as 40 microns.

Sand Filters are the weakest in the category, and can remove debris typically as small as 75 microns.

​3) Maintenance

Cartridge filters require the least maintenance. Unlike the other 2 filters, they don't require backwashing. Instead, you just replace the cartridge about once a year.

Sand filters aren't the easiest to maintain. They just need to be replaced about every 6-9 years, but do require backwashing fairly frequently - once every 1-2 weeks.

DE filters are very similar to sand filters in the maintenance they need in that they need to be back washed once every 1-2 weeks. However, DE filters need additional DE powder about once a year, which makes them a little more maintenance than sand filters. Just make sure your choice is compatible with your pool pump system.

Pool Size

How large your pool is directly determines the type of pool filter you should get as it determines the flow rate you need. Unfortunately, it isn't very straightforward to understand how many gallons of water your pool actually holds so we have this table to help you estimate how much water your pool holds:

Pool Size Chart

Flow Rate​

Understanding your size is important to calculating the flow rate. You want your entire pool filtered around every 8 hours. Essentially you'll divide the Pool capacity in gallons (use the above chart) divided by 8 and that's the flow rate per hour you need.

Typically, you want a filter that will be able to cycle through your entire pool a little faster than 8 hours since it will slow down as it ages so don't skimp out and make sure to get a filter that will also be good for your pool in a few years.

Best Pool Filters Reviews 2019

Editor Rating:


The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools is a filter pump that has been getting rave reviews for being affordable and easy to maintain.

Sand filters are great because the cleaning process is very natural. Its sand media traps dirt and debris while the water runs through it, then the clean water is returned to the pool - similar to how well water is cleaned.

It also has six settings for cleaning and managing water flow. This sand filter is ideal for use in above ground pools 16 feet and above. It is also virtually maintenance free although you will have to replace the sand every five years.

This above ground filter pump is mainly designed for Intex pools.

Key Features

The following are the key features of this filter pump:

  • Built-in, 24 hour timer for convenient, hassle-free pool maintenance
  • Generates pump flow rate of 3,000 gallons per hour
  • Best suited for above ground pools 16 feet and above
  • With 6—way valve, pressure gauge, strainer basket, and heavy duty tank.
  • Powerful, .95 HP motor

Ease of Assembly

This filter pump is generally easy to assemble. It comes with an instruction manual, with clear instructions to guide users. Plus there’s a DVD that you can watch to better understand how to set up this pump.

Many reviewers on say they were able to assemble the pump in 30 minutes. It is also possible to assemble this sand filter pump in 20 minutes or less, especially for those who have assembled one before.

Once you have set up the pump, you’ll need to fill up the filter with sand. For the 3,000 GPH model, a 125 pound bag of silica sand should be enough.

Filters Well

This filter pump is also very great at filtering, according to those who own them. They particularly credit its control valve, with six settings for managing water flow and cleaning routines.

With the control valve, pool owners can filter, backwash, rinse, and decrease the water level of their pool. They can also recirculate the pool water without sending it through the sand filter, and close all water flow.

Ease of Use

With its timer, you can have this sand filter pumprun for a pre-determined amount of time.

Its included pressure gauge is also very easy to clean. Additionally, it has clearly marked green, yellow, and red zone so you can quickly know what the pressure is. It's not a game changer, but it's a nice little feature that you'll enjoy.

Things We Liked

  • Easy Set Up
  • Mild amount of noise
  • Lasts longer than average sand filters
  • Doesn't tip over

Things We Didn't Like

  • Designed for intex pools
  • Has problems removing smaller debris such as pine needles



Editor Rating:


The Hayward C900 Star Clear Cartridge Pool Filter is easily our favorite cartridge pool filter. It has a lot going for it - particularly the fact that it does its job and does it well. In fact, most users claim their pools have never been cleaner before having the Hayward C900.

While it provides an AMAZING clean, it also has a lot of other things going for it. For example, it is very easy to install. With straight forward instructions, it is not only quick, but you'd also be unlikely to run into issues with this filter.

It's last great attribute is that it is very low maintenance.

Most cartridge pool filters are pretty low maintenance, but even with a pretty dirty pool you'll find that you own't have to change cartridges every often -- every few months to a year. Compared to sand or DE filters, this is much better than having to backwash your filter every 2-3 weeks.

Unfortunately, there are a few minor issues that definitely aren't deal breakers. The biggest issue is that the default o-ring isn't very good. The o-ring is a type of seal, and the one that comes with  this cartridge filter tends to stretch out a little bit after every cartridge replacement.

Another thing that there are some issues with is that the paint deteriorates quickly in the sun. This doesn't impact performance, but it doesn't help the aesthetics of the filter.

Things We Liked

  • Low maintenance
  • AWESOME filtering
  • Easy assembly and set up
  • From most established pool company

Things We Didn't Like

  • Paint deteriorates quickly
  • Poor quality o-ring



Editor Rating:


The Hayward EC40AC Perflex Extended Cycle D.E. is a high performance swimming pool filter. It has a filtration rating of 2,400 gallons per hour, and made from durable and corrosion-proof materials.

It is suited for freshwater and saltwater pools.

This D.E. swimming pool filter makes use of diatomaceous earth, a naturally-forming sedimentary mineral rock. DE is arguably the most efficient and technologically advanced pool filter system.

It is typically fed into the system through the skimmer when the filter is started and drained from the filter when the dirt holding limit has been reached.

There have been many studies linking diatomite earth to various health benefits. According to Dr. Edward Group, D.E. promotes good skin health and supports heart health.

Key Features

The following are the key features of this D.E. pool filter:

  • Dimensions: 28.67 inches x 16.4 inches
  • Made in the USA
  • Filter rate of 2,400 gallons an hour
  • “Bump” action for quick and automatic cleaning of dirt and filter media
  • Corrosion-proof design
  • Filters out dirt as small as 2-5 microns

Is it Easy To Clean?

The consensus among reviewers on Amazon and personal experience is that maintenance of this filter is easy to clean. Stop the pump, move the bump handle down and up quickly. Rinse and repeat this eight times and you are done!

Cleaning is recommended once the gauge pressure rises more than 10 psi in less than 24 hours. Cleaning is also needed when cloudy water returns to the pool for more than half a minute after regeneration.

Then open the filter drain and vent valve, and let water and dirty to completely empty. Run the pump for several seconds after the filter has drained to flush out remaining dirt in the bottom of the filter.

Moreover, this filter doesn’t need to be cleaned regularly. Comments on indicate that this filter can last up to 8 weeks between cleaning.


Another advantage of this filter is that it isn’t hard to install. Most pool filter reviews on indicate that users were able to fit this filter in around half an hour.

You’d need a base unit, connectors, hose, and unions, though, as these aren’t supplied with the filter. You’ll also have to supply your own D.E. You will also need a pump with an outlet rating of 30 to 65 GPM or 114 to 246 LPM.

Once you have installed this filter, you can expect your pool to be crystal clear in 24 hours.

How Well Does it Filter?

Many reviewers are also raving about how well the Hayward EC40AC filters.

One reviewer mentioned that it took this filter about 2 weeks to completely remove the gunk in his 19,000 gallon swimming pool. Obviously, pool filters should be running throughout the day so this is an odd case and shouldn't happen.

Things We Liked

  • very easy to clean & install
  • "bump" action extends life of DE
  • No manual assistance required
  • low maintenance

Things We Didn't Like

  • Poor instruction manual
  • Clogs in small pools



Editor Rating:


The Hayward DE4820 Pro-Grid Vertical DE Pool Filter is designed for in ground pools and spas. It features a 48 foot filter that you can count on for years of trouble-free and non-corrosive performance.

This filter makes use of diatomaceous earth, just like the other Hayward model discussed earlier in this article. The 60 square foot variation of the filter would require about 7.5 pounds of D.E.

This filter works incredibly fast to clear swimming pools. One reviewer shared that this product was able to clear his dirty 38,000 gallon pool in 24 hours, and make the water crystal-clear in 48 hours.

Key Features:

  • Inlet diffuser elbow promotes equal distribute of unfiltered water to all filter elements
  • With a heavy duty 1-piece flange clamp that fastens securely on the tank
  • 2-inch, full flow internal piping and plumbing
  • 48 foot filter ideal for both commercial and residential applications

Ease of Installation

This unit comes in fully assembled so owners only have to place the media and install it in their pools.

This product has two hinges on the metal clamp, which reviewers say, makes it easier to install compared to their old filters. The coating on the said clamp is also very good, meaning it should last for a lot of years.

While the manufacturer recommends installation to be done by a professional, there are many swimming pool owners who did it by themselves. One pool filter review posted on suggested that the pool owner installed it in 30 minutes.

Filter Efficiency

Once this filter has been installed, expect it to clear pool water within 24 to 48 hours depending on the size of the pool.

One reviewer on says this filter is able to clean his 20,000 gallon pool in three hours. He says this filter is a lot better than his old filter, which took 8 or more hours in cleaning his swimming pool.

Basing on the reviews on, this filter does a great job of preventing much of the junk to come back to the pool.

Plus, swimming pool owners who use this filter say they are able to save because D.E. is very cheap. A 25 pound bag costs less than $15 in most states.

Ease of Use

While this filter doesn’t have a valve unlike other of the models discussed in this article, many reviewers say it is relatively easy to use.

Owners will know when to replace D.E. They have to look on the pressure gauge, and when it reaches the red hash this means they have to backwash and replace the diatomaceous earth.

Backwash and replacement would take around 5 to 10 minutes which is very fast.

Things We Liked

  • Very energy efficient
  • Very affordable
  • Maintenance free
  • Easy to install

Things We Didn't Like

  • Doesn't come with a slide value



Editor Rating:


The Hayward S244T ProSeries is designed for in-ground pools. This is an easy-to-use and efficient pool filter that has been getting a lot of positive feedback from many swimming pool owners.

This sand pool filter comes with a tank, a seven-way multi-port valve, pressure gauge, and sight glass. It is backed by a one-year warranty.

Key Features:

  • Weather proof tank
  • Made of tough, color-fast polymeric material
  • With six-position multi-port valve featuring an easy-to-use lever action
  • Advanced full flow technology that reduces energy costs

Efficient Filtering

One of the main selling points of this sand pool filter is its efficient filtering system.

Many satisfied owners say the cost of filling this with sand is less than buying a cartridge filter.

A typical cartridge costs around $150 and needs to be replaced yearly. But sand for this filter would only cost $100, with replacement needed in 5 years.

This filter can also go more than two months between backwashes. This can save users a lot of time, aside from sparing them of the hard work.

Backwashing is very easy to do with this pool filter. You simply turn the valve to backwash and wait until the water is clear. Then switch back to rinse until the water clears, and then switch back to filter.

The entire process would only take around five minutes. Moreover, pool owners don’t need to get filthy or soaking wet when they do it.

Ease of Use

This filter is very easy to use thanks to its good quality and well-built multi port valve. The said valve allows for several actions, such as backwashing, filter, waste, recirculation, rinse, and close.

The sight glass found in the multi-port head comes in handy for viewing dirty water when backwashing. With it, there’s no need to run out to the end of a hose to check if the water is clean.

Ease of Installation

Generally speaking, owners are satisfied with the ease of installation of this filter. Placement of the filter, positioning of its tube arms and filter tube, and filling with filter sand should take around an hour.

Then you’ll likely spend another 30 minutes or so for some plumbing adjustments.

Some pool filter reviews on suggest that there were owners who encountered installation problems. But the owners say it is due to the difference in the type of mounting used in this filter and their old filters.

Things We Liked

  • Very efficient
  • Cartridges are so easy to clean
  • Awesome sight glass to see backwashing

Things We Didn't Like

  • Subject to some leaking



Editor Rating:


The Pro 2400 GPH Sand Filter is a low-cost, low maintenance sand filter designed for above ground swimming pools. It is also very easy to install, with a multi-port valve that makes its operation hassle-free.

At the core of this pump is its big, one-piece tank. This is where pool water is filtered by going through about 19 pounds of filter sand before it is returned crystal clear and debris-free.

This product also comes with a strainer basket, multi-port valve, and system tray. Its drum is capable of holding up to 43 pounds of sand.

With this pump/filter combo, pool owners can save on pool maintenance in the long run.

Key Features:

  • 2,400 GPH flow rate
  • Three-position multi port valve
  • 19 pound sand capacity
  • Thermal protected motor with .35 horsepower input
  • Maximum suction of 32 square feet
  • Ideal for use in pools up to 10,000 gallons in size

Ease of Installation

Bsed on the above ground pool filter reviews on, it would only take 30 minutes to an hour to install this pump.

It should be noted, though, that those who were able to do so have technical know-how and experience in installing this type of pump.

There were also some complaints from reviewers on that they had issues in installing this pump. They also cite that the instruction manual doesn’t offer enough information, so they had to view instruction videos on YouTube.

If you’ve never installed a pump before, then you might encounter difficulties in putting this pump/filter combo and making it work.

Ease of Use

Many of those who own this type of filter agree that it is very easy to use. They agree that its multi-port valve makes operation of this pump a breeze.

However, it should be noted that the valve in this pump is only of a 3-action design, and not the six-way design that this product is advertised to be.

Once installed, this pump is able to make swimming pool crystal clear within 24 to 48 hours.

This pump is also very quiet while in operation, so it won’t bother you or everyone in the household.

Things We Liked

  • Very affordable
  • Very reliable
  • Very quiet

Things We Didn't Like

  • Instructions manual gives limited info
  • Not the easiest to install (better to hire a pool man)



Editor Rating:


The Hayward Pro Series S210T9S Sand Filter System W/ 1.5-HP Matrix Pump a high performance, pool sand filter system that’s designed to keep water crystal clear in above ground swimming pools. The product package includes a filter tank, a 1 ½ horsepower PowerFlo matrix pump and base.

This sand type of filter system makes use of an advanced full flow technology. In simplest terms, it can cause maximum filtration so pool owners will not have to filter their pools frequently.

Its 7 way multi port valve makes operation a lot simpler and convenient. And it is virtually maintenance free, so you can enjoy years of trouble-free service.

This pump and filter combo works best for small and shallow swimming pools. It can also be used in larger pools but you’d have to give it more time to run.

Key Features:

  • Weather-proof tank made of polymeric material
  • With an easy to use multi-port valve
  • Advanced full flow technology for reduced energy costs
  • With an integral top diffuser
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 30.5 inches

Ease of Installation

This filter is relatively easy to install, according to reviews on While there were pool owners who opted to have it professionally installed, there were also a good number of owners who were able to figure out how to install this pump/filter.

A common complaint is that the instruction guide lacked information. Some owners had to go to YouTube to watch videos on how to install this product.

The base that goes along with it is very solid. It is also weather proof, and provides a very solid support to the pump and filter.

Ease of Operation

The seven-way valve makes this pump/filter very easy to operate. Simply switch the valve for the following functions—filter, waste, backwash, recirculation, rinse, winter, and waste.

Plus, many reviewers are happy that the motor is quiet when in operation.

Filter Efficiency

Once set up, this pump/filter combo would take 24 to 48 days to clear the swimming pool water, depending on the size of the pool.

Many reviewers on say you’d really see the water moving when you install this pump/filter. This goes to show that the product really works in cleaning swimming pool water.

This unit also won’t need regular backwashing. Most reviews indicate that it can go 1 to 2 months without backwashing.

Things We Liked

  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Efficient

Things We Didn't Like

  • Flimsy clamps
  • Not very good instructions



Editor Rating:


Like most of the filters in this review, the Hayward C12002 is fairly easy to install. It can also run for weeks without needing cleaning.

Unlike the other in-ground pool filters in this article, though, this Hayward model makes use of cartridges.

The C12002 works hard in filtering water, ensuring maximum water flow with minimal maintenance needed.

This filter can be used for above ground pool as well as in-ground pool. It can work in both fresh or saltwater swimming pools and spas.

Cartridge pool filters are known to be a lot more efficient than sand pool filters. However, the major drawback is that the initial price of a cartridge is more expensive than that of a pool sand filter.

Like most of the filters mentioned in this review, the C12002 Star Clear filter is backed by a one year warranty.

Key Features:

  • Reinforced thermoplastic filter tank made of glass reinforced copolymer material
  • Single piece, injection molded base for added strength and reliable performance
  • Single locking knob that securely fastens the head to filter tank; no need for bolts or clamps
  • Elevated filtered water collector

Ease of Installation

Swimming pool owners who bought this filter say it is fairly easy to install. You don’t really need to be a plumber to follow the instructions that come with it. A good number of reviewers say they were able to install this filter in half an hour.

Installing and replacing the cartridge filter won’t also pose serious problems for most owners, according to reviews on

Ease of Operation

One of the advantages of this filter often cited by reviewers on is the ease of replacing the cartridge for cleaning. There are no tools needed to remove or replace the cartridge in the filter assembly.

You simply have to spin off the locking knob, then lift off the filter cover, and remove the cartridge.

To reinstall the cartridge element, remove first any collected debris from the bottom of the filter. Then carefully replace the cartridge over tie rod. Place te cover on the filter body, fit tie rod end through the center hole, and then tighten the locking knob.

In cleaning the cartridge, simply wash it out with a garden hose. It is easier to clean the cartridge when dry. After hosing, let it dry, and finally  brush the surface area to remove fine articles.

Filter Efficiency

Basing on the reviews of satisfied customers, this filter does an excellent job of filtering swimming pool water. One owner shared how this filter was able to clean his 20,000 gallon water in 24 hours. Within 48 hours, the pool was absolutely clear.

Moreover, many customers are happy that the cartridge doesn’t need to be replaced in 3-5 years. They say they are able to save a lot with this filter. The best choice for your buck in this price range.

Things We Liked

  • Great instructions from Hayward
  • Easy to remove, clean and replace cartridge
  • Cartridge life of 3-5 years

Things We Didn't Like

  • Replacement cartridges a bit pricey
  • Can have initial issues with pressure gauge




Even though selecting the right pool filter can be tough we're confident our reviews have helped narrow down the choice, if not already helped you select your next pool filter.

It's important to understand DE vs Cartridge vs Sand, and all of them are good. They each have strengths and weaknesses (which we mentioned before), but generally we like classic sand filters which get better with time and can last almost forever with proper pool maintenance.

However, if sand filters don't sound like they are for you our next choice is Cartridge filters which also work really well. It's really just a matter of preference.

Laurie S.

As a multi home owner for 15 years I've tried out a ton of pool products and methods and have found out the best ones that work for me. I love helping out other people with real, honest advice and spending time with my family. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me in the about or through a comment.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply: