Last updated on August 2nd, 2023
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Over the past 15 years, I’ve owned several above ground garden swimming pools, from Bestway framed pools to the Intex pool with the inflatable ring I purchased a couple of years back and everything in between. I’ve already talked about my experience with garden swimming pools here and how I heat my outdoor pools, more recently with a solar heater that connects the outlet on the filter pump and the return hose to the pool.
One of the best investments you can make with your outdoor garden pool is getting yourself the best pool filter pump. Many pools come with them included. However, from experience, they are nearly always not up to the job. They add a filter pump to try and add value to create a ‘full kit’ but include the cheapest model they can get away with. Personally I would always buy the pool without a filter and buy a decent one separately. This is why upgrading your pool filter pump to something more substantial or even adding a pool filter if your pool doesn’t even have one is always beneficial.
A couple of things I always recommend. First, you still need to add chlorine to the water, or it will turn green. The filter removes debris, not algae. The easiest way to do this is by adding a chlorine tablet to a floating surface dispenser. Some pool filter pumps such as this Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect, allow you to add chlorine tablets to the filter system.
Secondly, choose a filter pump that is large enough for your pool and pool skimmer if you have one which I highly recommend. The difference is night and day when you switch from a filter pump with a flow rate of 1500-2000 L/H that makes the specifications for your size pool to a larger model with a better flow rate says over 3000 L/H and a larger filter. Size and flow rate make a big difference.
For most people, if you have purchased your first pool under 12ft and need to add a filter system, this Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump is what I recommend. It will fit most pools as it uses the standard size fittings. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Bestway or Intex pool or some random brand; it should fit.
I’ve personally used this model for years now. The downside is the cartridge filters need changing every few weeks if it’s heavily used. However, I rinse my filters with a hose spray gun, and they last much longer before needing to be replaced. It has a reasonable flow rate of 2006 litres per hour. Overall, I think it’s one of the best pool filter pumps for smaller pools, it’s affordable, and the replacement filters are relatively cheap. It’s a great model for smaller pools between 6ft and 12ft.
If you have a larger above ground pool, I recommend upgrading to this Intex 634T Krystal Clear Filter Pump. Again, the fitting is standard, so it should be compatible with most pools. It has a faster flow rate of 2,500L/hr and a larger filter which makes a big difference. This is rated for pools up to 14,385 litres. If your pool is 12ft or over, this is worth considering. Just remember, the larger the pool volume, the longer it takes to circulate the contents of the pool. I recommend this model for pools up to 24ft.
There is one other filter pump I recommend over all of the above, this Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect. I don’t mention it as the top pick because they’re expensive, and if you’re just getting started or have a smaller pool, it might be overkill. However, no other filter cleans like a sand filter, their just on another level. There are a few different sizes to choose from.
They come with a few attachments to fit other pools. The main advantage of a sand filter is there are no cartridges to change every few weeks, and the sand will last a few years before needing to be changed. It also has a self-cleaning rinsing function, and you can even add chlorine tablets to the ChemConnect unit. On top of that, they have a fantastic flow rate and are very low maintenance. The model I review here has an amazing flow rate of 9848 l/h. This is the real deal, especially if you have a large pool.
Best Pool Filter Pumps
1. Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump & Cartridge
If you have a pool that is between 6ft and 12ft, then this Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump is a good place to start. It’s easy to use, has an ‘A type’ filter included and is very easy to set up. I’ve personally used this Intex pool filter pump on my Intex 6ft Easy Set Swimming Pool and with my older Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9ft Frame Swimming Pool as shown below.
It’s been a great pump over the last few years but it has limitations. I think it’s recommended for pools up to 15ft, but I think that pushing its capabilities. I think anything larger than 12ft and it will struggle to keep the water clean. Honestly, I would consider paying a little more for a large filter if you have a larger pool, even a 12ft pool.
Personally, I would consider the larger Intex 28634 Krystal Clear Filter Pump or even better, this Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect, an amazing bit of kit but more on this in the review further down.
For raised ground pools 6ft and larger, this includes your standard round 8ft, 10ft, 12ft pools and your 9ft, 10ft and 12ft rectangular framed pools. This is a brilliant pool filter pump, and it’s affordable. Combine this with some Chlorine tablets and a slow-release dispenser and you got yourself a great setup.
Now some assembly is required, but it’s very minimal. It’s really just a matter of connecting the included hoses to the pump by pushing them on and tightening them in place with plastic clips that are included and connecting the other end of the hoses to the inlet and outlet on the pool. The hoses are each 3m long, which gives you some length to play with when you connect them to the pool.
As you can see above, you can also connect this pool filter pump to a pool solar heater or electric pool heater. I have done this using a solar pool heater as shown in the picture above, which has proven to be very effective. You basiclly have the water go from the pool to the pump. It is then cleaned by the filter and diverted through the heater mat before returning to the pool. It’s a great little setup and cheaper than connecting an electric pool heater. The downside, these solar heaters only work on sunny clear days!
The filter cartridge is replaceable and easy to take out. I personally like to hose the cartridge down a few times before changing it completely. This removes all the debris, and you pop the filter cartridge back into the container again instead of changing it every 2 weeks. On periods of heavy pool use, you may need to change the filter more often.
- Filter pump and cartridge for Easy Set inflatable pools with top air ring.
- Works with pools from 244cm to 366cm in diameter.
- Filter capacity is 2,006L/hr.
- Easy to install.
- Cartridge is replaceable and easy to clean.
- Includes 3m filter pump hose.
- Uses Type A cartridge.
For most people with pools between 6ft and 12ft, this Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump is a good choice and, as shown above, in the pictures, is powerful enough to use with a pool heater too. Although this is the Intex brand filter pump, I know that most of these pools, including Bestway, use a standard-size fitting, so it should also be compatible with most other pools.
Overall it’s reliable, affordable, easy to maintain, and easy to set up. It’s a great above-ground filter pump to start with and much better than most of the smaller filter pumps some of these pools come with. Don’t forget; you must also use chlorine tablets if you leave your swimming pool set up for longer than a long weekend to stop the water going green. Get yourself a floating dispenser and some chlorine tablets, this combined with a filter pump will give you crystal clear water!
2. Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect
So if you have a pool that is larger than 12ft, I recommend upgrading to something a little more efficient that can filter the water at a decent rate. As good as the standard filter pumps are for smaller garden pools with their paper filters, nothing beats adding a sand filter to your setup. This Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect is undoubtedly one of the best above group swimming pool filters I’ve seen. Now they sell several sizes of this pump, including this 5678 l/h version which is great for pools bwteen 1,100L to large ones at 42,300L, so most people can’t go wrong with this model. The larger 7571 l/h and 9848 l/h models are perfect for very large pools.
In my review, this Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System is different from the other pool filter pumps in that its filtration system uses quartz sand, or you can use fibre filter balls instead. The advantage of this is that you have to replace the sand every few (three) years and not every few weeks like you do the paper filters in the smaller standard filter pumps.
Another very useful feature is the ‘ChemConnect’ attachment. This basiclly allows you to add chlorine tablets (small ones, as larger ones sometimes don’t fit) to the ChemConnect unit, which is next to the larger filter unit. This means you don’t have to use a floating chlorine dispenser or add chlorine directly to the water.
A couple of things to note, this sand filtration system uses quartz sand of a particular size and granularity. You need about 9kg of no. 20, grain size 0.45-0.85 mm quartz sand to fill up the filter chamber to where it says max. The sand doesn’t come with the filter so you’re on your own to source and buy this. However, it’s available on Amazon or any local pool store supplier that normally sell it.
Alternatively, and much lighter in weight than the sand, is an equivalent volume of Polysphere filter/media balls. These are small spheres made of 100% polyethylene (a plastic) and provide high filtration for water and other liquids. They’re reusable and renewable. You can clean them by hosing them down. To replace 25kg of filter sand, you need just 700g of these filter balls, so the 9kg of sand equivalent is even less than this.
The sand or filter balls are best at catching dirt particles and impurities but not large pieces of debris. That’s why this sand pool filter has a pre-screen in place before the real filter. This is a removable strainer that catches the blades of grass or pieces of leaves, the larger fragments. You can take the strainer out daily and remove whatever it’s caught, washing it out. Then just put the pre-screen back and you’re ready to go again.
Another unique feature of this sand filter among the models in my review which I have already mentioned is that it has a dispenser for chlorine. As I mention in the Buyer’s Guide, even though you have a pool filter, you still need to use chlorine to address bacteria and algae. ChemConnect is the chemical dispenser in this filter that evenly puts out just the right amount of chlorine to keep the water clean and healthy.
Where this filter pump really separates itself from other types is the ease of maintenance and cleaning or lack of it. The sand is good for about three years, and to clean the sand (which is the filter) it has a rinse function that cleans the sand, and you can then expel the dirty water elsewhere using the pipe. Do this every few weeks, and it’s good to go. Basically, you need to clean the filter much less, plus it does a much better job and has a much more powerful pump. This is more of a professional setup! expensive but well worth the extra cost!
Nearly forgot, it also includes attachments to ensure it fits on different pools if they have different size inlet and outlet pipes.
- Quartz sand filter pump with a ChemConnect chlorine dispenser.
- Pre-filter removes the large particles of dirt and debris.
- For above ground pools from 1,100L to 42,300L water capacity.
- Includes adapters for pool valves with 3.8cm outer diameter.
- Pump capacity is 5,678L/hr.
- Replace sand every three years.
- Arrives pre-assembled.
- The top clamp allows for 360 rotation.
Whatever the size of your above ground pool, this Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with the ChemConnect keeps it clean and healthy. While the pre-screen takes out the large debris, the sand or filter balls deal with the rest of the physical impurities, and the chlorine tables you have in the ChemConnect handle bacteria.
While keeping the pre-screen clean is done more often, depending on if you get much debris falling in your pool, replacing the sand/filter balls is done every few years. This is a much lower-maintenance pool filter pump system. Overall, for larger outdoor raised swimming pools, this is a great low maintenance setup and super efficient.
It’s worth noting that if you have a very small pool, they do sell a small 2006 l/h version which doesn’t have the ChemConnect system. This is still a good replacement for the small standard filter pumps that most pools come with.
3. Intex 634T Krystal Clear Filter Pump
This Intex 634T Krystal Clear Filter Pump is from the same series as my Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump & Cartridge I reviewed earlier. It’s perfect for larger pools that the smaller filter pump isn’t suitable for, for example over 12ft. It’s also a good alternative and more affordable than the Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect I also just reviewed, which used sand instead of cartridge filters.
Now, this larger 634T pool filter pump is more powerful than the Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump, and as you would expect, it is much better for much larger above ground pools. It’s suitable for pools with a volume of up to 14,385L, so you just need to double-check the capacity in litres of your pool.
Just like the smaller version, installation is easy. You just attach the hoses to the pump and into the inlet and outlet on your pool. You can also connect the outflow from the pump to a pool heater as well. It has plenty of power to do this no problem, you could even connect it to a pool skimmer too. The pump is also double-insulated to keep it safe and stable.
There’s also a sediment flush value to wash out some of the sediment from the filter cartridge. I also recommend regularly removing the Type B filter cartridge from the filter chamber and hosing it down with your garden hose to remove all the dirt and debris. This will help prolong the life of the filter, so you don’t need to replace it every two weeks.
Now a feature I do like is the auto timer lets you set an automatic schedule for the length of time the filter pump comes on from between two hours and 12 hours. This saves you from remembering to switch the pump on and off yourself.
- Cartridge filter pump for pools with Intex screw-on hoses.
- Includes one filter cartridge.
- Suitable for pools up to 7.3m in diameter and 14,385L.
- Flow rate is 2,500L/hr.
- Built-in auto timer.
- Uses Type B filters.
- Easy to install.
This Intex 364T Krystal Clear Filter Pump is the model to choose if you have a large above ground pool and looking for a pool filter that is more affordable than the sand Filter pump models. It’s built to handle a large volume of water, yet it’s still simple to install and operate. It’s really an upgrade from the smaller version I reviewed earlier,
Overall it’s perfect for large raised garden pools. Depending on what pool you have, you might have to buy a couple of separate adapters, but you can get everything you need from B&Q for a few pounds.
4. Bestway Flowclear Filter Pump For Pools
This Bestway Flowclear filter pump is an alternative to my Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump, especially if you already have a Bestway pool and not Intex. They are both incredibly similar and use the same attachments with very similar performance metrics.
If your pool’s volume is between 1,100L and 17,400L, this is the size of filter pump to consider. This also works for pools that are similar to the Bestway ones as most garden pools use the same fittings as already mentioned ealier.
You can work out the number of hours (hr) it takes to clean all the water in your pool by dividing its capacity in litres (L) by the flow rate of your filter pump (in L/hr).
- Cartridge filter pump designed for Bestway pools.
- Works with pools from 1,100L to 17,400L capacity.
- Pump flow rate is 3,028L/hr.
- Filter flow rate is 2,195L/hr.
- Includes the filter cartridge.
- Easy to install.
If you have a smaller Bestway above ground pool of up to 17,400L capacity and are looking for a cartridge filter system, this is a good alturnative to the Intex Krystal Clear Swimming Pool Filter Pump. Overall, if you have a smaller Bestway pool, then this filter pump is made to fit the pool although the Intex should also fit as they all use standard fitting. Again, anything larger than a 15ft pool, though, and I’d be looking for a larger filter pump like the Bestway Flowclear 1500gal Filter Pump below or even the Bestway sand pump.
5. Bestway Flowclear 1500gal Filter Pump
This Bestway Flowclea 1500gal Filter Pump is the filter pump to choose if you have one of the large Bestway or similar type above group pools. I’m talking up to 31,700L of water so pools over 18ft but I’d recommend it for smaller pools too.
Installation is easy. Just attach the hoses to the filter pump and then to the designated places on the pool structure. Make sure you’re near enough to an outside electrical outlet to plug the pump in and you’re ready to filter your pool water.
Just be aware that, if you do have a pool at the high end of the range, it takes about eight hours a day of running the filter to circulate all of the water once through the filter so you might be better upgrading even further to one of the sand pumps instead.
- Cartridge filter pump for Bestway pools from 1,100L to 31,700L capacity.
- Pump flow rate is 5,678L/hr.
- Filter flow rate is 3,974L/hr.
- Includes the filter cartridge.
- Easy to install.
The Bestway Flowclear 1500gal Filter Pump is the model to choose if you have a large above ground pool in your garden, especially if it’s a Bestway branded pool. It’s got a good flow rate of 5,678l/h (1500gal./h).
This Filter Pumps for Above Ground Pools Buyer’s Guide starts by explaining how the filter pumps work. It then moves on to the essential information you need to choose the best filter pump for your pool and to run it successfully.
How above ground pool filter pumps work
Pool filter pumps for above ground pools are simpler than those for in-ground pools. In general, a spinning impeller inside the pump pulls in water from the pool through the inlet hose that you’re attached to the pool wall in the designated place. The water goes through the filter where dirt and debris are removed. The now clean water continues its journey and is pumped out to the pool through the outlet hose.
Types of filters
One of the decisions you have to make when buying your above ground pool filter pump is the kind of filter you want to use.
The most popular type is a cartridge filter. This filter consists of large sheets of polyester paper or cloth which are folded accordion style. This enables the filter to have a large surface area in a small space. The larger the surface area, the more dirt and debris are trapped. Most filters use one cartridge while others use several.
Cartridge filters can be cleaned regularly, perhaps every day if your pool has heavy use. Remove them from the filter chamber and wash them down using your garden hose. Be thorough to remove all the debris they’ve collected. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to when to replace the cartridge itself, usually after a number of weeks.
One of the filter pumps for above ground pools in this review, the Bestway Flowclear Sand Filter System with ChemConnect, uses sand to collect the dirt and debris. This style of filter uses quartz sand of a particular size/granularity to work as the filter. The old water runs through the sand and the dirt and debris are caught up on the sand granules. Clean water emerges from the sand filter and returns to the pool.
In the sand model we review, a pre-screen collects the bigger pieces of unwanted material and you should wash this out daily. However, you only need to replace the sand every few years.
Chances are that the sand for the filter doesn’t come with your purchase of the filter pump so that’s an additional expense. And you have to go and get it yourself.
None of the filter pumps in the review use a diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filter. D.E. is fossil dust that catches the debris. The filter looks like fingers hanging down or overlapping curved walls.
The size of the filter pump
Most manufacturers give the range of pool volume capacity of water that the filter pump can handle. It’s shown in litres (L) of water. Ensure that your pool is within this volume range. You may also find a number that indicates the filter capacity. That’s given in litres per hour (L/hr). This is the volume of water (flow) that the filter can manage through it perhour. It’s less that the pump (L/hr) can put through, which is another number that you may come across.
To find out how long it takes to filter all the water in your pool once, divide the pool’s volume by the filter’s flow, and that gives you the number of hours you need to run the filter pump for.
Running your pool filter pump
One of the most common questions asked about using a filter pump is how long you should run it. Should you run it all the time, 24/7, just for sunlight hours, or only for the time you’re in the pool? In my research I found a variety of answers ranging from “at least a few hours a day” through to “10 to 12 hours a day in summer”.
The point of having a filter pump is to keep the water sparkling and clean. And as well as the usual dirt and debris, this includes green algae. Algae grow more in warm temperatures and sunshine, so it makes sense to run it more in the summertime.
A rough rule is to cycle all the water in your pool through the filter once a day. This could take four to eight hours but you don’t have to do that all at once. You can break the filtering up into different sessions through the day. You may want to avoid doing this at nighttime if your pump is somewhat loud.
Given all this advice, the best answer I can offer is to start off running your filter pump for about eight hours a day and adjust that time according to the results that you get.
Note that your pool filter pump removes only solid waste. It doesn’t deal with bacteria or any other form of microscopic being. For that you need to use chemicals, particularly chlorine tablets. The sand filter in this review has a chlorine dispenser built in, but the cartridge filters we review don’t. You need to make other arrangements for your chlorine regime.
Using a pool filter pump in your above ground pool is an important part of keeping the water clean and healthy. The pump removes dirt and debris and stops that green sludge from forming. Remember that you also need to add chlorine to the water as well if your filter pump doesn’t have a feature for that. And double check that the size of the filter pump is appropriate for the size of your pool.
Last update on 2023-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API