MGK Pool Service

Pool Filter Above-Ground – Best Above-Ground Filters and Systems

Pool Filter Above-Ground – MGK Pools

This page has everything you need to help you choose the ideal filter or filter system for your above-ground pool. It has a couple of suggestions that are a little outside the box for those looking for something extra. It describes all the best filter packages available for sale by most online above-ground pool stores, and a couple of even better options.above-ground pool book

If you already know which filter type you prefer, you could just skip to that section for a breakdown of what I would buy if I were you.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filter Above-Ground Pools

DE pool filters will trap the smallest particles of dirt, and therefore are the best pool filters you can buy! I will also say this again and again; bigger is better unless you enjoy cleaning your pool water-filter. Filters can only remove so much debris before they fill up and need to get cleaned, so larger pool-filters require less cleaning and maintenance.

You know your filter needs cleaning when your pressure gauge on it has gone up 7-10 pounds, or you see low water pressure from the return line, this is true of all pool-filters. Recommendations for DE Pool filter above ground:

From Left To Right, We Have:

  • Pentair Quad 60
  • Pentair/Sta-Rite PLD50
  • Hayward EC65
  • Hayward EC50

Pool filter Above Ground

Pentair Quad 60 DE Pool Filter

This pool filter is not made or marketed for above-ground swimming pools, but it is what I would own if I had the following pool sizes:

  • 27 Round
  • 30 Round
  • 33 Round
  • 18 x 33 Oval

There are no prepackaged systems available with this filter that would come with an above-ground pump, base, and hoses. You would have to buy everything separately and plumb it out for yourself. Chances are you would not have to clean this filter at all during a 5-month pool season, probably just when closing the pool for winter. Here is a short video of my helper cleaning one as I narrate.

The Quad 60 filter was new in 2015 and immediately became my favorite when I saw the material Pentair used to make it. The only place I have seen this filter material before was on the old Sta-Rite PLD series filters. Pentair bought Sta-Rite and rebranded it, but you still see the legacy brand (Sta-Rite) sold in some places.

I would only use this on the big above-ground pools and would use a Pentair 342001 pool pump. This combo would run you close to $1400.00 and so, does not make a lot of sense for most above-ground pools, probably just most massive.

Pentair/Stay-Rite PLD50 DE Above-Ground Pool Filter

The PLD50 is my favorite pool filter for above-ground swimming pools. This one will clean any size above-ground pool with ease. I have a customer with a 24-Round that goes all year without having to clean the filter once.

It comes in a convenient packaged system with a 1HP pump, base, and hoses for between $500.00-$600.00. We currently have it for $595.00 + S&H in our online pool store Click Here

We sell it for $565.00 and ship it for free when you buy an above-ground swimming pool from us. I can sometimes find it

PLD50 and 342001 combo
Packaged w/Dauntless Above-Ground Pool

on Amazon for less than my suppliers’ charge. Try This Page.

Of course, I don’t like one-speed energy hog pool-pumps so I would pair the PLD50 with a Pentair 342001 variable speed pump. You can buy filter-only and do some custom plumbing with a quick run to Home Depot or Lowes.

The Pentair 342001 pool pump ($650.00) is usually cheapest on my site Click Here, but the warranty when buying it online is a joke. For my customers in Massachusetts, I can buy this pump and install it for only $400.00 after local rebates and incentives. Plus having purchased it locally and had it professionally installed you get a 2-year part and labor guarantee from Pentair.

Hayward EC65 Perflex DE Pool Filter

Again this is sold as an in-ground filter, but it’s price and filtering capacity make it sexy to me. You can buy this EC65 filter right now on Amazon for $429.00 + S&H See Here. Score a 1.5 HP above-ground pump for like $150.00, and that is one excellent filter system for under $600.00. Again, this is outside the box thinking, meaning you will have to do the plumbing, but a great option. If you have been reading along, you know which pump I would pair this filter with for maximum efficiency and energy savings.

The Perflex action on this filter provides longer filter runs before needed maintenance or cleaning. To regenerate the DE media that’s inside the unit you; shut down the pump, push the handle down and jerk it up fast, do this 3-5 times and then start the system back up. This process knocks the dirty DE powder off and allows fresh, clean DE to take its place.

This filter would be amazing for above-ground pool sizes 24-Round and 15 x 30 and bigger.

Hayward EC50 Perflex DE Pool Filter Above Ground Pools

EC50 filter w/ 342001 pump
Installed on Aquasport 52

The EC50 is a good filter and a great value too for above-ground pools. This pool-filter will clean better than the rest of the ones mentioned further down in this article.

I like to pair this filter with one-speed and variable speed pumps. I avoid using 2-speed pumps as the lower speed does a poor job of stirring the DE powder and keeping it stuck to the grids for proper filtration.

Complete packages that include the filter, 1.5HP pump, hoses, clamps, and base run between $450.00 and $525.00

Pairing the Hayward EC50 with the Pentair 342001 as you see in this picture would run about $1000.00, not including plumbing supplies.

Cartridge Filter Above-Ground Pools

Cartridge filters are the next best at cleaning the dust, algae, and dirt that makes the water cloudy. These are more like traditional filters used for drinking water. They have a fibrous cartridge with pleats that traps particles.

These filters work well with inexpensive 2-speed above-ground pool pumps. You can run 2-speed pumps on low for 24 hours a day and not use half the electricity of a 1-speed running just 8-hours. Cartridge filters catch more dirt on low speed, and the cartridge lasts longer. One other positive is that they cost less than DE filters.

Reliant 100 Square Foot Cartridge Filter – Above-Ground Pool

The Reliant 100 Sq Ft Filter System with a 2-speed Pump is the best value of any system I have ever seen! The only filter system I know of that comes with shut off valves in the package.

342001 with cartridge filterSuitable for above-ground pools in size up to 24-Round, or 15×30. I have been thinking about making a Reliant 200 Sq Ft system by combining to 100 filters for larger swimming pools. Commercial swimming pool systems run multiple pool-filters parallel to each other. 🙂

We sell these Reliant systems complete with hoses, clamps, base, pressure gauge, and valves for $350.00 + S&H. Click Here to browse our filter systems. If you buy an above-ground pool from us, we sell the Reliant for just $285.00 and ship it for free.

Pool filter above groundThe Reliant filter system is more of an MGK Pools exclusive as we buy these filter housings and package them with premium Unicel Cartridges.

Of course, I prefer a programmable variable speed pump that allows me to dial in the perfect flow-rate, so I like to pair the Reliant filter with the Pentair 342001. We sell this combo with pool packages for just $859.00.

Hayward XStream 150 Filter for Above-Ground Swimming Pools

The XStream 150 comes with a 150 square foot cartridge filter as the name suggests. For the best value, I recommend buying it with a 2-speed pump. The problem with this system for me is that it cost $550.00-$600.00 bucks and that is a one-speed pump system.

If you have an above-ground pool bigger than 24-Round or 15×30 and you want a cartridge filter, this is the one. Or, for those that can wait, Hayward does make an XStream 200 filter. It is just that so few get sold that nobody stocks them, or markets them.

The XStream 150 is the only above-ground filter I have not paired with the super-uber-doober-pump.

Sand Pool Filters

Despite the fact that Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and Cartridge filters clean pool water significantly better than Sand filters, the industry continues to sell more Sand filters than any other type. I will touch quickly on the two main reasons for this before breaking down the best sand filters based on pool size.

Popularity of Sand Filters

Reason 1: Sand filters are idiot proof, that is to say, the care cleaning and regular maintenance of these filters are simple. Backwash them as required now and then, and replace the sand every 5-7 years.

Reason #2: They’re inexpensive compared to the other filter types.

Yes, sand filters are inexpensive and when paired with a two-speed pump, operate for peanuts. The trick is going big enough. As previously mentioned, pool dealers sell more sand filters than any other filter type, what I didn’t say was they usually undersize them. 🙁

The minimum size for pools up to 24-round or 15×30 has to be 19 inches which hold roughly 175lbs of sand. I would even like to see the 24-Round and 15×30 use a 22″ filter which holds 200lbs of sand. I have installed a 400lb sand filter with the 342001 on a 24 foot round above-ground pool. The customer loves it!

So #1 go big, and #2 get a two-speed above-ground pump for it. Run it on low 24 hours a day and use the high speed for backwashing and vacuuming. Sand filters filter better when water moves slowly through the unit.

PRO-TIP* – Allways backwash a new sand filter before running it on the filter setting to remove small sand that would find its way into your swimming pool.


All filter types will keep the water clear. DE filters are best catching the smallest particles providing the clearest water. Bigger is better unless you like cleaning filters. The Pentair PLD50 system is the best above-ground pool filter system and my favorite. Best value and most economical to operate for pools up to 24-Round or 15×30 sizes is the Reliant w/ 2-speed pump system. With sand filters go for the largest you can afford.

You may have noticed I mention a certain pool pump over and over again. I realize it doesn’t make sense for most of you, but for the last two years with the incentives offered from the local power company, plus the kickback I and my Massachusetts customers receive it has been a no-brainer. I make an argument for that pump no matter what in this article Click Here to Read.

Please ask questions in the comments section below!

Related Articles:

  • Top Ten Best Above-Ground Pools with Tips and Advice Click Here
  • Above-Ground Swimming Pool Packages from MGK Pools Click Here
  • Automatic Pool Cleaners For Above Ground Swimming Pools Click Here

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