Best Above Ground Pool Sand Filters Systems for 2020: Reviews and Buying Guide

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Your swimming pool needs maintenance and cleaning to keep clean clear water for your family and guests. To do that, you need a filter system and pool pump. Depending on your situation, you have various choices. So let’s take a look at what those choices are.


Two Kinds of Pools—Above-ground and In-Ground

There are two kinds of swimming pools. An above-ground pool is easier to install since it doesn’t require digging a large hole in your yard.

Man floating on above ground swimming pool

Above ground Swimming Pool

In-ground swimming pools are the kind we often think of.

Inground swimming pool

In Ground Swimming Pool


The reason I bring this up, is because, if you just search for a pool filter, and aren’t careful, you may end up spending hundreds of dollars on the wrong kind of filter system!


What Are the Three Types of Filter Systems?

There are three kinds of filtration systems for you to consider.

  •       Sand Filter, which is the most popular kind
  •       Cartridge Filter
  •       Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth filters are the most effective, because they filter out the smallest particles, down to just 1 millionth of a meter. However, they are more than 2x more expensive. We won’t review them for purposes here, since far fewer people find that level of cleaning necessary in a pool filter system. However, if you want to check out our recommendation for such a filter, you can go here:

Or simply click this image:

Cartridge Filters offer about the same degree of cleaning as a sand filter. However, they don’t last as long as a sand filter, and they also cost more. However, you can see a popular model here:

Or simply click this image:

The rest of this article will go into the details of a sand filter system or sand filter (if you already have a pump) for an above-ground pool.  Here is a quick overview of the filter pumps and the stand alone filter (if you already have a pump)

Intex 26651EG 3,000 GPH Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump with Automatic Timer
Best Filter Only
Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter, 20-Inch, Top-Mount
Intex 26651EG 3,000 GPH Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump with Automatic Timer
Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter, 20-Inch, Top-Mount
Excellent Company and Service. Filter and Pump
Filter only, no pump. Excellent Company
Customer Satisfaction
Intex 26651EG 3,000 GPH Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump with Automatic Timer
Intex 26651EG 3,000 GPH Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump with Automatic Timer
Excellent Company and Service. Filter and Pump
Customer Satisfaction
Best Filter Only
Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter, 20-Inch, Top-Mount
Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter, 20-Inch, Top-Mount
Filter only, no pump. Excellent Company
Customer Satisfaction

Last update on 2024-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why Choose an Above Ground Pool Sand Filter

Here is why you should choose an above ground pool sand filter.

  •         A good sand filter system catches not only large particles as small as 20-40 microns — 0.0007874015748031 of an inch!
  •         It is an inexpensive option that you can use for keeping your pool protected from impurities.
  •         This can prevent skin irritation.


If you have the time and enjoy doing in depth research, you could find one that suits your needs. However, with at least 16 different brands and  numerous models to choose from, why not let me do the heavy lifting? For complete details on the 2 Best Above Ground Pool Sand Filters, get all the details by reading until the end. This post will not only help in picking the perfect unit, but also give valuable information about this pool filter.

However, if you want to simply cut to the chase and see the top recommendation, it is this one:

What are the major benefits of installing above ground sand filters?


The major benefits of sand filter systems are:

  •                     Keeping water crystal clear – Who likes to use a swimming pool with sand and debris in it? It gives a bad feeling that everyone wishes to avoid. Using this equipment will ensure that you never have to deal with such situations with your swimming pool.
  •                     Low maintenance–  There is minimal maintenance cost. People who don’t use a filter usually end up having to spend hundreds of dollars later on for cleaning their pool when compared with the filter pump system
  •                     Faster Operation–  This filter is easy to operate, so you don’t have to spend too much time the cleaning the pool. It means you don’t need 2-3 hours daily for this purpose.
  •                     Prevent illnesses–  Dirty pool water harbors lots of bacteria and other impurities. Dust and debris get into the pool. A good pool pump and filter tank  cleans your pool continuously to ensure that the people avoid skin infections or other health issues.

Which are the top  best above ground pool sand filters to shop in 2020?

The top pool filters are what you’ll want if you are convinced that you should install a pool filter. But where to start? There is a great variety of models in the market. There are pool pumps, pool filters, and pump and filter systems, which can confuse most of us.

Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump vs. Sandmaster Pool Filter—Which to Choose?

The fact is that there are at least 15 companies manufacturing or selling these pool cleaners.  However, based on my research very few have either an established record of delivering value to the customer, or an examination of their overall rating leaves something to be desired.

You can do a search for yourself with this link.

What you’ll find is that the company with the best history and most popularity, is the Brand Name, Intex.  Intex had its origins 40 years ago.  It specializes in above ground swimming pools, and pool accessories, as well as inflatable air beds, air furniture and water toys.  None of its competitors come close to that record.

Nevertheless, I am including a comparative example of a pool that may qualify for your consideration, though with reservations.

So what you’ll see here are two of the best above ground pool sand filters complete systems in 2020.  These include both the pool pump as well as the filter. That makes it easy to pick what you need.

What If I Have a Pool Pump and Just Need a Filter?

Now, in case you have a pool pump already, and just need a filter, go here to check those out.  This shows both full systems as well as just filters. Later on I’ll get to buying a filter only, but for now……read on.

The 2 Best Pool Filter and  Pump Systems

Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 16-inch, 110-120V with GFCI

Intex 26651EG 3,000 GPH Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump with Automatic Timer
19,905 Reviews
Intex 26651EG 3,000 GPH Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump with Automatic Timer
  • HYDROAERATION TECHNOLOGY BY INTEX -– Transforming the Above Ground Pool industry, by bringing revolutionary water aeration benefits such as improved circulation and filtration, improved water clarity, increased negative ions at the water surface
  • EASY INSTALLATION – Just hook up hoses and plug in! This pump is a must have for any above ground pool up to 19,600 gal (Partial assembly required)
  • 24 HOUR TIMER – The SX3000 has a built-in 24-hour timer with 2 to 12 hour pre-set cycles for automatic operation. The timer adds to the hassle-free experience with maintaining a cleaner pool
  • 3000 GPH PUMP FLOW RATE – Water flow rate at pump (pump capacity): 3,000 gph (11,356 lph); in pool (system flow rate): 2,450 gph (9,274 lph); suitable for INTEX pools up to 19,600 gallons
  • SAFETY, QUALITY and VALUE – Intex designs, builds, and tests all its products to the highest standards with safety the first order of business; our affordable and innovative products are built to last

Last update on 2024-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Intex Krystal Clear Sand filter Pump for Above Ground Pools is exceptional. Unlike other filters, this machine not only cleans the water but also softens and refreshes it. It has a six function control valve that performs a variety of jobs including:

  •         Filtering
  •         Cleaning
  •         Rinsing
  •         Draining the pool.
  •         It works on the Hydro Aeration technology that is considered perfect for above ground pools
  •         It has a superb circulation & filtration system for effective cleaning of the pool.

The flow rate of this model pump is 3,000 gallons per hour, allowing the equipment to complete cleaning job with ease. It’s the best above ground pool sand filter. It even comes with a 24-hour timer, that makes things convenient. But you can choose whatever pump size you need, depending on the size of your pool. The manufacturer sells it in four different sizes that range from 1200 gallons per hour for a 10′ filter to 3000 gallons per hour for the 16′ filter.

Strainer Basket

The biggest highlight of this sand filter is the presence of a large strainer basket that makes cleaning better than ever with the help of pre-filtering procedure. On top of that, it results in boosting the life of the sand used for the filtering process.

Multi-function Unit

As noted earlier, this sand filter system and pool pump out performs other filter systems. Specifically, it backwashes and rinses the water along with filtering. Then, it re-circulates and drains the water followed by closing the system.

Pressure Gauge

The pressure gauge monitors the water pressure during backwashing. There aren’t too many products with such a great feature.


  •       Boost clarity of the water
  •       Raises the level of negative ions in water surface
  •       Backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty
  •       Equipped with Hydra Aeration Technology inlet


  • Minor complaints about leakage in the inlet hose
  • Harder to follow instructions


Important! Please click here to see the detail page for this pump and filter system, which shows 4 sizes, based on the size of your pool.

Briefly, check to see the right model for your pool size, which can range from 2,800 gallons to 19,600 gallons. The filter tank sizes are 10”, 12”, 14” and 16”.

Sand Master Above Ground Sand Pool Filter (best for soft side pools)

No products found.

Are you looking for equipment to clean your soft-sided above ground pool? If yes, then consider this model from Sand Master and a get much-needed break from cleaning work. It is a simple to install unit known for durability and affordability. Backed by a one-year warranty, you can use this unit for pools up to 9,600 gallons without any problem. It features a powerful 20 GPM 115V pump along with four-position multiport valve for making things convenient.

It is an ideal choice for people who are tired of buying units with a defective operation. Buying this unit will help you avoid such experiences. The manufacturer delivers this excellent filter with a complete of accessories that include nails, hoses, etc. It ensures that the buyers have to shop nothing separately for completing the installation process.

Extremely Powerful Pump

A major attribute that attracts the buyers towards this filter is its very powerful & excellent pump. It gives new strength to the pool functionality and allows the unit to perform most effectively. Its 20 GPM 115V pump capacity is very effective to work even in large pools.

Multi-Position Valve

There is a multi-position valve added by a manufacturer that doesn’t available in filters priced in this range. It results in providing a solid pressure even if the pressure drops to lower side.

Rust Resistant Tank

Another specialty of this product is rust & corrosion resistant tank that can reduce the worry of buyers to a greater extent. The destruction of the filter reduces to minimal due to this superb product.


  •         Capable of holding sand up to 42 lbs
  •         Equipped with 20 GPM 115V pump
  •         Impressive efficiency
  •         Delivered with a complete set of accessories


  •         Doesn’t eliminate red clay from the water
  •         Hose connection system needs improvement
  •         No recognized website offering strong customer support



What Are the Key differences between Intex and Sand Master?

The key differences between Intex and Sandmaster are:

  •         Intex is a real brand with an actual website and customer service department.
  •         It appears that Sand Master is a generic, stand alone product, with no website and no company address
  •         Intex is fully integrated, with proven pump, filter, history.
  •         Intex includes a 24 hour timer, but you will need to get some pump connectors
  •         Sand Master does not appear to have a multi year operating history
  •         Sand Master does not have a 24 hour timer
  •         Sand Master specializes in soft side above ground pools. It has a maximum 9600 gallon pump and filter capacity.
  •         Intex has capacity up to 19,600 gallons
  • 2 Year guarantee for Intex vs. 1 year guarantee for Sand Master

For these reasons, I recommend you get the Intex, a highly regarded brand that makes above ground pools, along with everything else you would want in a pool.

What about if I need just the filter?

If you already have a pool pump, and just need a pool filter, then read on

Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter (best cost-effective pick)

Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter, 20-Inch, Top-Mount
1,683 Reviews
Hayward S210T ProSeries Sand Filter, 20-Inch, Top-Mount
  • High-performance top-mount sand filter for above-ground pools, small in-ground pools, and aquariums
  • Corrosion-proof filter tank molded of color-fast material for long-lasting; 7-position vari-flo valve provides maximum flow at lower pressure drop
  • Durable; large pressure sand/water drain for rapid winterizing or servicing; round base included; all-weather performance
  • Flange clamp design allows 360-degree rotation for easy installation
  • Integral top diffuser ensures even distribution of water over the entire sand bed for maximum use of the filtration area

Last update on 2024-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want an effective sand filter for cleaning above ground pools, then consider the Hayward S210T.  Here are its features and benefits:

  •         The latest pool filter technology
  •         Corrosion-proof high-quality & durable polymers
  •                     Single piece tank construction for trouble-free performance for many years without asking for too much maintenance
  •                     Available in five different sizes that range from 16 inches to 20 inches
  •                     Flange clamp construction that allows 360˚ rotation for making installation easier
  •                     Integral top diffuser results in better water distribution across the complete sand bed
  •                     No professional skill or expensive tools required for installations
  • A company with an 80 year history in the pool business
  • Several different size filters, depending on your situation

In addition, it has these special features:

  •         Energy-efficient operation– saves money on operation but also by reducing energy use
  •                     Advanced Full-Flow Technology boosts superior flow rates along with improved filtration cleans the swimming pool better than older types of filters
  •                     Corrosion-free Tank results in prolonging the life of sand filter along with ensuring top performance


  •         Fairly quick installation process
  •         Equipped with a valve for backwashing the pool water
  •         Cover the majority of filtration area on one go
  •         Backed by a one-year warranty


  •         Minor complaints about pinhole leakage
  •         Some packages missing seven-position filter head


How to choose the right above ground pool sand filter?

With so many factors involved in buying a pool filter or complete pool/pump system, here is a buying guide to help you choose what’s right for you.

Pool Size

Check your pool size, to determine which size filter and/or pump you need. Obviously, a small bathing pool needs a smaller filter and lower capacity pump than a large pool. Also, be sure that you choose the right type of product. Be sure, if you have an above ground pool, to choose the right item. Don’t get stuck with an in ground pool filter or pump. Read the listing page carefully.

Cleaner Type

This equipment is available in many different versions that include pressure side, suction side, or robotic cleaner. All of them are capable of cleaning above ground swimming pool convincingly but uses different power. The most common type is suction side due to its affordable price & solid cleaning ability.

On the other hand, the pressure side is used for capturing debris & circulating water in a better way. The robotic cleaners are the most costly ones & generally used by professional pool owners.


The third important thing to consider is the budget while buying a sand filter. They are available in many different price ranges that begin from as low as US$ 100 and goes even more than US$ 1,000. Choose a unit that meets your needs and fits your budget. On the other hand, don’t penny pinch with brands that are not tested, have little customer support, and in the end, you get stuck with something you’ll have to replace.



This post discussed the following issues:

  •         The difference between above ground and in ground pools and why that matters
  •         The three main types of filters: Sand, Cartridge and Diatomaceous Earth
  •         The fact that there are few long standing companies dedicated to providing pool equipment
  •         Reviewed two companies that make pool filter and pump systems
  •         One company that makes the best sand filters

If you have an above ground pool sand filter and enjoy swimming in a clean pool be sure to check out the information here, as well as the links to specific pool products.

Do you still have any questions? Write to us through the comment section or email your query.

Eric Arnow

I am a researcher. The biggest problem for people today is getting good information. Even so called 'Experts' have their own biases. So when I set out to be 'your shopper', my goal is to make your whole decision making process easier. I take literally hundreds of hours to see what is the best product to fit people's needs. This saves you lots of time and aggravation. However, please note that these are my own opinion, so be sure to check for yourself before making a decision. Also, this is a reader supported site. That means that if you decide to buy something after coming to my website, I may earn a commission from Amazon Associates or other Affiliate Program. You pay no extra fees for my efforts, but you do help support my research efforts. Thanks for reading!