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Sand Filters vs. Cartridge Filters: Choosing the Right Pool Filter

When it comes to finding the right pool filter for your pool, there’s a lot to take into account. They all keep your pool clean and free of leaves, dirt and debris, but what’s the difference between them? How do they actually work and what can they do?We know that when it comes to your in-ground or above ground pool you want affordable and efficient equipment. The most popular pool filter types are cartridge filters and sand filters. Our recommendation would be with cartridge filters, and here’s why:
Sand FilterSand Filters are generally the most compact and more affordable way to filter an in-ground or above ground pool. Basically, the way a sand filter works is that inside the sand filters use specially designed rough shaped pool filter sand that removes the dirt and debris that runs through your filtration system. The cleaned water then flows back into the pool out through the bottom end of the filter. In a sand filter, a back washing effect occurs once water flows out through the waste line cleaning the filter. Generally, the sand should be replaced about every five to eight years, based on usage.
Sand Pool Filters
Pros: Cons:
Removes down to 20-40 micron sized dirt and debris Requires frequent maintenance
Easy-to-use and simple-to-operate Not great for pools with lower GPM capacity
Geared for pools with high GPM (gallons per minute) capacity
Cartridge FilterCartridge filters can screen out twice as much dirt and debris as a sand filter. Its larger filtration area allows the water to progress through the cartridge removing smaller particles. Maintenance is much easier in that there is no need for a back-washing step. All you have to do is take the pool filter cartridge out of the system and either replace it or wash it off. These filters cut energy costs by utilizing low pump pressure, but can have a higher upfront price. Since the pressure needed is lower, it can prolong the life of your pool pump.
Cartridge Pool Filters
Pros: Cons:
Simpler to maintain than other filter systems Costs can be higher than other types of filters
Removes dirt particles as small as 10-15 microns
Perfect for filtering above ground pools
Cuts energy costs by utilizing lower pump pressure
Less wear and tear on pool pump
Low water flow impact
Larger surface area screens out more dirt particles
A high quality pool filter for your pool is key to creating and maintaining a healthy and sanitary swimming environment. When it comes to sand and cartridge pool filters, we always recommend cartridge filters as they catch smaller dirt particles, clean more rapidly, require less pump pressure, and are easier to maintain. Sand filters are still good options, especially for larger pools with more powerful pool pumps, or for those who worry about the initial price, but cartridge filters are more versatile and will end up saving you money in upkeep costs and savings to your pump.
Swimming Pool Filters
  • suresh patel

    sand 100 micron 200micron 300micron 400 micron 500micron

  • Debbie Shook

    We have a 16 X 28 ft Doughboy pool, 3 ft shallow end with a 5 ft deep end. We bought it as a package with pump and sand filter 10 years ago. Pump works fine, but the filter, despite sand replacement, gasket replacement, and being “rebuilt” by the pool shop we got it from. Pool empties when left on filter mode, when vacuuming dirty water bleeds back into pool. We think the filter needs to be replaced. Do you recommend another sand filter, or perhaps cartridge type. We need to be able to install and maintain it ourselves, no pool maintenance service in our area.

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Debbie, if you have been happy with a sand filter to this point, you could certainly replace your current filter with another sand filter, but we often recommend cartridge filters for their ease of maintenance and better filtration ability. What make, model and part number is your current filter? What size, make and model is your pump? When replacing a pool filter, it is important it is sized large enough to turnover your entire pool in eight to ten hours while also being able to handle the flow rates created by the horsepower of your pump.

      Based on your pool size alone (approximately 10,000 gallons), the Pentair Clean and Clear CC50 Cartridge 50 sq. ft. In Ground Pool Filter should be a sufficient replacement. This filter can turnover up to 24,000 gallons in eight hours, and can handle flow rates up to 50 GPM. If your pool pump creates flow rates greater than 50 GPM, you will need to purchase a larger filter. The Clean and Clear CC75 Cartridge 75 sq. ft. In Ground Pool Filter is the next size up, and can accommodate flow rates up to 75 GPM.

      It’s better to slightly oversize your pool filter to not only ensure proper filtration but also to extend times between cleanings. To clean a cartridge filter element, all you need to do is remove it from the filter housing and hose it down. If you have further questions on the best replacement filter for your pool, please feel free to contact us for immediate assistance.

  • http://www.poolfilters.biz/ Jeny Thomas

    What a difference you have mentioned between sand filters and catridge filters. It seems to be very systematic and clear.Catridge filter is preferable mostly as it allows more water to pass and it is on demand also to make your pool clean. Thanks for the post.

    • http://PoolSupplyWorld.com/ Whitney (PoolSupplyWorld)

      You are very welcome Jeny and thank you for visiting our website! We strive to make pool care simple and provide clear explanations for our customers. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything else that we can help you out with.

  • Chris Jordan

    What water type is best used with a sand filtration system?

    • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

      Hi Chris,

      Do you mind expanding a bit on what you mean by water type? Are you possibly referring to where your water is being drawn from (well, water tank, etc.)? Or maybe you are referring more to your chemical levels in the water?

      My initial response will be no, the water type will not play into the effectiveness of the filter system. But if you want to provide a bit more explanation I would be happy to help. Thanks!

      • Chris Jordan

        The water will be coming from a deep well. But my question is more geared towards the chemical type I should use.

        • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

          As for the chemicals to use in your pool, it will depend quite a bit on a bunch of factors all coming in to play. If you happened to have chemical test results I can take a look at the numbers and suggest what needs correcting.

          As a very basic maintenance program, you will need the following (ranked in order of importance):

          1) A chlorine residual that can be maintained via chlorine tablets, shock, liquid chlorine, or a salt chlorine system.

          2) pH balancer, whether it is a pH increaser or decreaser will depend.

          3) Algae control of some fashion; this could be a product like Natural Chemistry’s Pool Perfect + Phos Free or an algaecide.

          4) A conditioner or stabilizer, may not be needed depending upon your chlorination method.

          5) Metal control depending upon the water source and current Calcium levels.

          Not all of these products will be needed and it will really depend upon the specific chemical levels of your pool.