The rewards of having a swimming pool are undeniable. You know those beautiful, relaxing summer days, splashing around with your family and friends? Well, those don’t come for free. 

Pool maintenance can be a lot of work. In order to keep your pool clean and sparkly all year long, you have to care for all of your pool’s moving parts. The good news is, however, that with the right pool filter, you just cut your work in half.

If you want to lighten your pool maintenance load, cartridge pool filters might be just what the doctor ordered. Let’s take a look at what options are out there.

Top Picks for Cartridge Pool Filters

Preview Product Price
Blue Wave 120-Square Feet Cartridge Filter System... Blue Wave 120-Square Feet Cartridge Filter System...
Pentair 160316 Clean & Clear Fiberglass Reinforced... Pentair 160316 Clean & Clear Fiberglass Reinforced... $409.99
Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool... Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool... $762.49
Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump... Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump... $370.00
Hayward XStream CC1000 Above Ground Pool Cartridge... Hayward XStream CC1000 Above Ground Pool Cartridge...
Hayward W3C4030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter,... Hayward W3C4030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter,... $1,119.00
Rx Clear Radiant Cartridge Pool Filter for Above... Rx Clear Radiant Cartridge Pool Filter for Above... $229.96

What is a Cartridge Pool Filter?

A cartridge pool filter uses a filtration system made up of thin, clothlike material to filter out particles and contaminants from your pool water. The cartridge can be removed periodically for washing, to remove dirt and debris, and then can be replaced with a brand new one every year or so.

Unlike sand pool filters that require frequent backwashing, cartridge filters just have to be taken out and sprayed off with a garden hose. So although cartridge filters are more expensive than sand filters, you’re going to save a lot of money on water used for cleaning.

What Types of Cartridge Pool Filters Can You Buy?

Cartridge pool filters come in all shapes and sizes but all will more-or-less do the same thing. The two main types of cartridge pool filters are ones made specifically for in-ground and above-ground pools, although many can work with either model. 

The most important factor here is the size (water volume) of your pool. Above-ground pool cartridge filters are smaller and meant to clean smaller volumes of water than their in-ground counterparts. 

What to Consider When Buying a Cartridge Pool Filter

Cartridge pool filters are great all-around filters for residential and commercial pool owners. So although all cartridge pool filters are going to do the same thing, there are definitely ones that are better for certain jobs. 

Before you take the plunge, here are a few things to consider to make your decision-making process as simple as possible. 

What Size Filter Do You Need?

Determining your filter size ahead of time is a smart first step to avoid accidentally purchasing the incorrect model. Start by taking a look at your pool pump to find out the flow rate or GPH (Gallons Per Hour) that the pump can accommodate.

When looking for a cartridge filter for your pool, the standard gauge is 100 square feet of filter for every 10,000 gallons of water. So, if you have a 25,000-gallon pool, you need at least 250 square feet of filter.

When sized correctly, cartridge filters don’t clog up as quickly, allowing more water to flow through for optimum cleaning potential. If a cartridge filter is sized properly, you may be able to run it the entire season without needing to clean it.

Size Matters… When it Comes to Microns

Microns are a unit of measurement used to measure impurities. Just to give you an idea of size, a micron is a unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter (1/1,000,000 m), or 0.0000394 of an inch. The human eye can see something as small as 35 microns without magnification.

Swimming pool filters are rated according to the size of microns they capture. So the lower the number on a filter’s micron rating, the better it’s going to be for cleaning your pool water. If a filter could capture particles down to 1 micron, that would be an awesome filter. 

So when it comes to water purification, the smaller the particles you are able to remove, the cleaner the water is going to be. It’s as simple as that. 

Cartridge pool filters are generally rated to filter particles down to 10-20 microns. If pool water purity is your goal, make sure to look out for cartridge filters that are rated on the lower end of the scale.

How Often Do You Have to Replace the Filter?

Some above-ground cartridge filters need to be replaced weekly and some only once every other year. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider the cost of replacement filters when making your purchase so as not to get a nasty shock in the future. 

At one time, it was not unusual for a cartridge pool filter to last 2+ years. However, the increased use of sunscreens, hair products, and deodorants by swimmers take a toll on the filter, decreasing its lifespan to roughly 1 year at the most.

Pro Tip: One of the best ways to extend the life of your cartridge pool filter is to have swimmers rinse or shower off before getting into the pool. This can really save your filter from all of the chemicals in personal products that wear it down over time.

What’s Your Budget?

Price is always a major consideration when it comes to buying a piece of equipment or household appliance. Remember that you plan to have this for years to come, so you want to make sure the quality is there. You’ll find that the price of cartridge filters varies significantly based on filter size (area), flow rate (GPH), and general durability.

Finding a cartridge filter that fits your pool, your maintenance schedule, and your budget is the goal.

Best Cartridge Pool Filters

#1. Blue Wave 120-Square Feet Cartridge Filter System with 1.5 HP Pump

Blue Wave 120-Square Feet Cartridge Filter System...
Blue Wave 120-Square Feet Cartridge Filter System...

    This high powered filter system will deliver many years of trouble free operation. Hydro systems have set the standard for quality, superior flow rates, and unmatched water quality. The rugged filter tanks are constructed of tough, weather-resistant and corrosion-proof polymer.

    Inside the filter tanks are extra large filter elements that produce water quality superior to sand without backwashing. Due to their large size, the filter elements require a minimum of cleaning, insuring hassle-free operation.

    The systems are powered by high powered pumps that are energy-efficient, allowing you to run your pump less while maintaining crystal clear water. The large spin lock makes removing and cleaning the cartridge a snap.

    Pros:

    • System is easy to put together
    • Easy to store during off season
    • Filter is easy to remove and clean

    Cons:

    • Pump can fail
    • Does not have an on and off switch on it

    #2. Pentair 160316 Clean & Clear Plus Tank Cartridge Pool Filter

    Pentair 160316 Clean & Clear Fiberglass Reinforced...
    Pentair 160316 Clean & Clear Fiberglass Reinforced...

      The Pentair Clean & Clear Plus pool and spa cartridge filter is equipped with easy spin-on unions for plumbing hook-ups and a chemical-resistant and durable tank body. The cartridge is coreless for easy hose-off cleaning. It has an effective filtration area of 100-square feet and a flow rate of 100-GPM.

      Pros:

      • Easy to install
      • Very reasonably priced
      • Includes one cartridge

      Cons:

      • The PSI gauge isn’t as durable as the other components.
      • Items may be damaged in shipping. Be sure to buy from a trusted seller.

      #3. Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool Filter, 120 sq ft

      Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool...
      Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge Pool...

        With a larger filtration element, the Hayward C1200 SwimClear Plus Cartridge filter has a greater effective filtration area than similar-sized and priced cartridge filters. It is reinforced with thermoplastic filter tanks made from extra durable glass-reinforced copolymer material to withstand the toughest environmental conditions, achieving maximum water flow and superior filtration with minimal maintenance necessary. It is a 120-square foot filter suitable for 10,000 to 12,000-gallon pools.

        Pros:

        • Incredibly simple installation and maintenance
        • Great pressure and water clarity after even short-term use
        • Excellent customer service from Hayward

        Cons:

        • The filter tie rod is prone to early rusting.
        • May arrive with cracked or missing pressure gauge. Make sure to purchase from a trusted seller.

        #4. Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above-Ground Pools

        Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump...
        Intex 28633EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump...

          Keep your pool water crystal clear with the Intex 2,500 GPH Filter Cartridge Pump. With a pump flow rate of 2,500 gallons per hour and a system flow rate of 1,900 gallons per hour, this pump will circulate and filter the water in your above ground pool to keep everything clean, refreshing, and fun. So easy to use and made with a double insulated pump, the Intex filter cartridge pump works best with pools 4,000 to 15,000 gallons.

          Pros:

          • Maintenance is a breeze: only needs the occasional rinse or swap
          • 2500 GPH pump is super powerful and very quiet
          • Cleans a dirty pool really fast

          Cons:

          • Big hoses may not fit smaller pool openings

          #5. Hayward XStream CC1000 Above-Ground Pool Cartridge Filter

          Hayward XStream CC1000 Above Ground Pool Cartridge...
          Hayward XStream CC1000 Above Ground Pool Cartridge...

            Hayward XStream cartridge filters provide a wide-area filter body for the added capacity of dirt and debris and longer, more efficient filtering cycles. Its large size and non-corrosive filter tank mean years of trouble-free filtration. Designed specifically for the rigors of above-ground filtration, the XStream is engineered for easy use with flexible or rigid plumbing.

            Pros:

            • Quiet and efficient
            • Includes one cartridge filter
            • Easy to install, change, and clean the cartridge

            Cons:

            • Does not come with the coupling required to attach a motor to the filter

            #6. Hayward SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter

            Hayward W3C4030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter,...
            Hayward W3C4030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter,...

              Featuring an assembly of reusable polyester cartridge elements, Hayward’s SwimClear Multi-Element Cartridge Pool Filter provides heavy-duty dirt-holding capacity and extra-long filter cycles for in-ground pools and spas. SwimClear’s top manifold configuration has great hydraulic performance, allowing for maximum flow through all cartridge elements for superior water clarity and increased energy savings. Available in 325, 425, and 525 square foot sizes.

              Pros:

              • Comes fully assembled with 4 cartridges
              • Easy 30-minute installation, no-hassle cleaning
              • Excellent customer service from Hayward

              Cons:

              • The manifold may crack if left in direct sunlight longterm.
              • Sub-par packaging. Make sure to buy from a trusted seller.

              #7. Rx Clear Radiant Cartridge Pool Filter

              Rx Clear Radiant Cartridge Pool Filter for Above...
              Rx Clear Radiant Cartridge Pool Filter for Above...

                These cartridge filter systems have set the standard for quality, and superior flow rates and unmatched water quality. This pump will circulate and filter the water in your above ground pool to keep everything clean, refreshing, and fun.

                Pros:

                • Easy to use
                • Easy drain access

                Conclusion

                Cartridge pool filters are a great choice for keeping your backyard swimming pool sparkling and clean. They require very little maintenance, are extremely powerful cleaning machines, and will save you money on water and energy costs in the long run.

                Cartridge pool filters will do the heavy lifting for you when it comes to keeping your pool clean and clear of unwanted contaminants. And the less time you spend cleaning, the more time you spend swimming, right?