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Apr 21

Above Ground Pool Filter Systems – What’s Best?

Cartridge, Sand, and DE Filters?

Pump Sizing? We Got Your Answers!

As far as pool packages go and pool quality I will just say this, when buying from an ‘independent retailer” the quality of the pool and the components are very similar.

However when talking about pool filtration every pool guy has their own opinion and it all basically comes down to the quality of the filtration vs. ease of use and cost of ownership.

In this quick article I will break down the 3 types of filters and pool pump sizing for an above ground pool. I will also let you know what I think is the best option for new pool owners.

Sand Filters:

Sand only filters down to 20 microns on its BEST day, but they are very easy to use as their is no media to clean, no DE to add. There is the need for back-washing however which wastes a lot of water, and the backwash valves have a few moving parts and gaskets that can break down and need repair/replacement from time to time.

Back-washing is the only way to relieve filter pressure with sand and thus uses the most water by far our of all types of filtration.

DE filters:

D.E. powder offers the absolute finest filtration, down to 2 microns! However it requires the most maintenance and has the highest cost of ownership. The filter media needs to be back-washed regularly, therefore using a lot of water. Also the media inside that hold the DE needs to be cleaned a few times a year and acid washed at least once a year. Your water will sparkle but you will fight with the filter every once in a while and there are lots of parts to DE filters that break down and need replacement over time.

DE powder is also a very nasty carcinogen and is really bad to breath in has it contains silica, very nasty hazardous stuff!

Cartridge Filtration:

Cartridge is the Goldilocks zone of pool filtration in my opinion and what we use on all our in-ground and above ground pools. Large capacity cartridge filters filter down to 7-10 microns, require very little maintenance and are super easy to use. NO nasty DE powder, no back-washing, (saving you water and $$) and hardly any parts. It contains just a cartridge (that lasts 5-7 years) and a tank, no valves or anything.

starite plm100

The Sta-rite PLM100 cartridge that we use is super easy to take out and hose down when needed, which is not often, once you get the pool cleaned up in the beginning of spring most of my customers do not touch the filter all year! It also offers less resistance on the motor and gives you more flow, turning the water over more times a day which helps keep algae at bay.

Also, Unlike DE opening the filter to take out the cartridge requires no tools.

You will not notice the difference in micron filtration as compared to DE 98% of the time and the ease of cartridge easily makes up for it.

Above Ground Pool Pump Sizing

I never want to bash anyone in the industry but any pool guy that is trying to sell you anything larger than a 1hp pump is either uniformed or selling you a bill of goods.

All above ground pools use 1 1/4″ or more common 1 1/2″ plumbing, you can only force so much water through that size hose. So the more water you try to FORCE through it the more friction you create and thus the more energy you will use.

To be totally honest even 1hp is too much pump for most pools, but it is very hard to get 3/4 or 1/2hp motors in the pool industry any more (due to marketing battles of years past!)

Our Choice for Above Ground Filter Systems

THe Sta-rite PLM100 kit I have been selling with every above ground pool for 12 years and it does a great job of keeping the pools clean and keeping maintenance to a minimum. We do offer our customers the option of upgrading to the DE version – the PLD50 however cartridge is what we prefer especially for those who have never owned a pool before.

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4 Comments

  1. Randy VanCamp
    February 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm · Reply

    Have a 30ft X 54″ above ground pool! it currently has a 26″ sand filter with a 2hp motor. The tank has since ruptured and will be buying a new package. What size tank and pump do I really need to get the job done?

    • admin
      February 7, 2017 at 9:53 am · Reply

      Hi Randy,

      a 20 to 24″ sand filter is plenty big enough and you do not need anything larger than a 1hp pump, you can’t force anymore water through a 1.5″ hose with a 2hp you are just creating more friction and spending more $$$ on your electric.

      I would say a Haywward Pro-Series 24″ tank with 1hp pump would be your best bet.

      -Jay

  2. Ann Howze
    April 25, 2017 at 11:31 pm · Reply

    I am having to replace my above ground pump this year. My pool is 16×32 oval 15,000 gallons. I am considering switching from a 19 inch Tagelus Pentair sand filter to a Hayward Cartridge filter system. Please give me any advice and or suggestions for what to buy. Would appreciate suggestions on sand filter and pump size and also cartridge system and pump size I would need. Thanks so much.

    • admin
      April 26, 2017 at 9:28 am · Reply

      Hi Ann,

      I am a fan of cartridge systems to be honest. It is a good balance between fine filtration and ease of use. A 1hp pump is fine no need to go bigger than that as you only have 1 1/2″ pluming. The Hayward Xstream is a good option or the Sta-rite PLM100 cartridge system.

      -Jay Broyer
      Precision Pool

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