9 Useful Small Swimming Pool Filters For Dirt-Free Water

People like to swim, or at the very least enjoy time spent lounging poolside. Perhaps have pool parties, entertaining friends and colleagues. Outside of cities, many would love to own their own pools. Because of space constraints and a lack of knowledge, most also believe that they can’t be pool owners.

The thought of putting in an in-ground pool into a backyard may be daunting. Not everyone is aware that they can maximize the use of their space by adding a small pool to their backyard. Most Importantly people don’t know how to care for a small pool because unfortunately, the most familiar personal pools that everyone, myself included, are aware of are ones that look like this.

If you don’t know what all entails keeping up with a small pool, we can learn what we need together from start to finish. My research help you make a more informed decision, about what you’re both able to afford and easily maintain. So We’ll not only discuss what constitutes a small pool as they may not be exactly what you think they are, but these things as well;

filter system
  • We’ll talk about what a small pool is and the types.
  • What equipment you’ll need and why.
  • Why this equipment is important to your pool’s health.
  • We’ll explore a list of products to help you choose.
  • Why do you need a filter for a small pool?

What Exactly is A Small Pool?

Not many people are truly knowledgeable about what truly constitutes a small pool. But small pools are something to look at seriously as they offer good alternatives to the cost and time of larger in-ground pools. The costs tend to be much ess, the equipment is different and the upkeep is definitely not as time consuming.

pool with filter

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Most people don’t really have any idea of what a small pool is or can be. When one thinks of small pools, the images that popped into the head are probably comical. Most, myself included will likely picture something like this; a pool that all you can do is sit down in, or something that children splashed around in.

A small pool is defined as anything;

  • holding less than 20,000 gallons of chlorinated or salt water
  • 600 square feet or less in size no matter the shape.
  • The most known type of small pool is an above-ground pool.
  • There are also in-ground small pools.
  • Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they aren’t for swimming.
  • 600 square feet can be of any shape.

The kidney shape is the most common type, followed closely by square and triangular shapes. While small pools can most certainly be used for exercise purposes, divining isn’t recommended as they’re usually no more that 6ft deep. Take a look at the different types of small pools below, this will help with deciding what you’d like your small pools primary purpose to be.

Lap Pool

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This is the most typical for exercise. It’s triangular in shape to give the most available space to do laps back and forth across the pool. This is preferred by swimming enthusiasts, people who want a whole body workout and competitive swimmers. This type of pool can also be installed either above or in ground.

Recreational Pool

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This, just as it’s name suggests, is for relaxing in the sun and entertaining. You won’t get any vigorous exercising done, but that’s fine, that’s not it’s purpose. A recreational pool can be any shape from kidney, to square or round. You can even accessorize it with anything you wish, such as the waterfall in the one below.

Above Ground Pool

pool pump and filter system

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This is probably the type of small pool most people are familiar with. It’s a good option if you don’t want to spend too much money or time getting your setup ready. They generally have a very simple setup and are usually ready to go in about a day. So theoretically you could buy your pool in the morning and enjoy it by evening.

What Sort of Equipment Do You Need?

Regardless of whether your pool is chlorine or saltwater, all pools need filters and pumps. Small pools use filters that are made for their specific size and needs. There are a number of different filters that can be used with small pools. How do we choose the proper filter for your small pool? Well there are certain things to look for when choosing a small pool filter.

You could have a professional do this for you, but perhaps you’re a DIY enthusiast and want to learn as much as you can about caring for your pool on your own. The instructions can get a bit complicated, and involves math formulas, yikes! Not to worry, I’ll break it down for you so that you don’t have to do this yourself. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

  • First size your pool. This isn’t something that you usually have to worry about, the measurements will most likely be provided by the manufacturer or your reseller.
  • Find your pools flow rate, this is how much water can run through your filter per minute. There’s a maximum and a minimum flow rate for all filters, so this is important.
  • How long does it take all the water in your pool to run through the filter? This is called the turnover rate and should typically be at least once in a 10 hour period.
  • The right filter will be the one that allows for the turnover rate based on size and amount of water in the pool.
  • How much water resistance will the filter offer your pool? The higher the water resistance, the faster more water can move through it. This is a good thing.
  • It’s ok to go with a filter that’s a little more than the capacity of your pool.

Small Swimming Pool Filters Galore

Now that we’ve figured out just what you need to do to find a suitable filter, we can decide what sort of filter you’ll need or want for that matter. You can purchase filters on their own, but you can also get a complete small pool pump and filter system. Filters come in three different types. These are Sand filters, Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and Cartridge filters.

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Regardless of the filter you ultimately choose, the combination of a small pool with filter and pump is the most essential to keeping your pool’s system healthy. Much like the valves of the human heart, the small pool filter pump is the thing that gets the water to where it needs to be. It’s the “heart” of the pool as it were.

So we’ve talked about the different types of available filters, and the importance of the pump to the system. Now let’s look at the different small pool filters or systems complete with small pool filter pump on the market for your new pool. Below I’ll provide you with nine of the better filters and systems available, complete with links and reviews so that you can make your own choices.

Sand Filters

A small pool sand filter is exactly what it sounds like, a small pool filter that uses a specially designed sand. It’s the most common and affordable filter type. It works by pushing the water in your pool through sand to remove all dirt and particulates. There are some pros and cons to having a small sand filter for pool

  • It’s easier to use and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other filter types.
  • It’s low maintenance and lasts eight to ten years on average.
  • It unfortunately will lower the pool water capacity because of how it cleans, and it can throw off your water balance.

1. Blue Wave 12in Above Ground Sand Filter with 1/2HP Pump

Blue Wave 12-Inch Sand Filter System with 1/2 HP Pump for Above Ground Pools

This is one of the smaller types of filter and pump systems. It’s less expensive than the average large size sand filter would be. By all reports it does just as much of what people expect out of a sand filter. It’s an above ground only system..

Pros

Cons

  • It’s corrosive proof and winter perfect.
  • This is a complete system that includes everything you need to set up and run your filter system.
  • Comes with it’s own hose fittings. Made of durable polyethylene. Complete system that includes: base, pump, filter tank, 4-position multi-port valve, clamps, fittings and pressure gauge.
  • Runs very quietly and is energy efficient.
  • Filter holes may be large enough that they allow some debris in.
  • May get clogged sooner than other filters of a similar type.
  • The provided hoses aren’t as snug and may have to be replaced.
  • Will only work with a 115volt pump.

2. Intex 16in Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools

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

This is a competitively priced pump and filter system that packs a punch. It will keep your water clean and free of growth such as algae, not to mention dirt and particulates. On average it needs to be run about six hours a day. It has a gauge that is colour coded making it easy to read. There is also has a built-in strainer basket for filter tabs.

It’s fine enough that it keeps leaves and large debris from clogging the filter. It’s recommended that the system be installed outside of a housing unit to prevent the restriction of airflow. You can however install a shield over it to guard from the sun’s rays. Minimum pool capacity is 5,500 gallons Maximum pool capacity is 19,600 gallons

Pros

Cons

  • Has a system flow rate of 2,400 gallons per hours.
  • There’s a menu control valve that lets you filter, backwash, rinse, recirculate, drain and close the system.
  • Includes a safety shut off and an automatic 24hr timer so you don’t need to be there to perform all tasks.
  • Works with both saltwater and chlorine pools.
  • Built-in ground fault circuit breaker.
  • Includes two connector hoses.
  • You’ll need to get very specific sand media that is only sold through manufacturer.
  • Laterals are two wide and can cause sand to shoot into the pool at times.
  • Pump may not be able to keep pressure over time and will have to be replaced.

3. Hayward S166T92S Pro Series 16-In Top-Mount Sand Filter Pool Pump

Hayward S166T92S Pro Series 16-Inch 1-Horsepower Top-Mount Sand Filter Power Matrix Pool Pump

Although on the pricier side, this top mount series features a complete system of full flow power pump, filter and a base. The tank is a perfect all weather tank with a multi-port valve. With the combination of power pump and filter, the energy costs associated with running a pump are reduced because you can operate it less frequently.

Suitable for all weather conditions, the large sand and water drain so that you can quickly winterizing or service. The valve provides max flow with low pressure drop and seven positions. Included clamp allows for 360-degree rotation which makes installation a breeze.

Pros

Cons

  • Outfitted with a self-cleaning underdrain a top diffuser and 360 degree slots for even water distribution through the sand filter, for clean water and a balanced flow.
  • Multi-port valve has positions for filter, closed, backwash, recirculation, rinse, waste and winter as well as pressure gauge with sight glass.
  • Compatible with in-ground, above-ground pools and aquariums.
  • Injection molded and corrosion proof.
  • Clamp allows for 360-degree rotation making installation a breeze.
  • Only 120V with no adaptaion for 240V.
  • Fittings are loose and may cause leakage
  • 16in model may not be powerful enough for pools over 10,000 gallon capacity
  • Pump is very loud and at at odd angle with the filter which may cause backwash to get into the pool

Cartridge Filters

Cartridge filters are the middle child small pool filter system and do much the same things that sand filters do, but filter out twice as much dirt and smaller particulates. Unlike the sand filter, a cartridge filter is removable and easily cleaned so the build up will be less. They’ll cost less in operation costs as they use a lower pump pressure, but cost more to purchase.

small pool sand filter

They are also lower costs associated with the purchase of pool cleaning chemicals for two reason. Remember how we’d said that a sand filter can throw the balance off of your pool water? That’s because when it removes debris, and cycles the water back into the pool you wind up losing some of your water and whatever pool chemical is in the pool.

Because of the way that cartridge filters work however you lose less water and associated pool chemicals because there is no backwashing involved. The water simply gets filtered and cycled back into the pool via the same source.

4. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter and Pump

This is a decent inexpensive alternative small pool filter and pump in comparison to more expensive systems. It’s very easily cleaned and maintained, with a good flow rate. The manufacturer does recommend replacing the pump that comes with the system for better performance. Based on the reviews this seems to be what most that have purchased have done, with good results. It has a system flow rate of 1,180 gallons per hour

Pros

Cons

  • Double insulated pump that ensures longevity.
  • Has a built in timer to set the operating times.
  • Has automatic preset timers for between two and eight hours.
  • Comes with additional cartridge, and two hoses
  • Will need adapters if you want to upgrade the pump.
  • Doesn’t come with plunger valves and correct ones cost almost as much as the pump.
  • Pump makes a very loud sound when running.
  • Some people have reported the pump burning out or losing power quickly.
  • Can only be used on above ground small pools.
  • Cartridge needs to be replaced every two weeks.

5. Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools

Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 2500 GPH Pump Flow Rate, 110-120V with GFCI

This is a good inexpensive system with a lot of good reviews. It has a flow rate of 1,900 gallons per hour which is makes getting a 20,000 gallon pool completely filtered in about ten hours. It’s also possible to vacuum the bottom just using the auxiliary port while filtering the pool at the same time. However If you plan on using this pump for the smaller Intex pools with the smaller diameter hoses, you'll need to buy a hose conversion adapter kit for 1500 gph and 2500 gph pumps. Those are relatively easy to find at e-tailers.

Pros

Cons

  • It has a double insulated pump.
  • Has a sediment flush valve in the filter chamber
  • Works with 18-feet Easy Set, 18-feet Metal Frame, or 18-feet by 10-feet Oval Frame pools
  • The suction quality is strong enough to pick up even the smallest bits of gravel.
  • Air release valve to free trapped air from chamber.
  • Built in timer so that you can set operation times.
  • Cartridge needs to be replaced every two weeks.
  • Does not come with plungers or adapters.
  • Housing is weak and prone to cracks and breaking.
  • Pump pressure starts to fall after about two hours of running.
  • Only suitable for above ground small pools.

6. Hayward C225 25sq ft Micro Star Clear Pool Filter

Hayward C225 Micro Star Clear Pool Filter

This cartridge filter is what’s known as a full flow element filter, it’s specially developed for above ground pools. It’s also injection molded, so it’s one piece and in that sense eliminates the worry that bits could break off. In addition being a one piece unit, it’s also created to be installed on any part of the pool via a snap-on tightening knob with no bolts or clamps.

Pros

Cons

  • Filter head can be rotated to reposition pressure gauge and manual air valve.
  • Is designed for pool capacities up to 15,000 gallons.
  • Strong filtration elements catch dirt and debris easily
  • Designed for maximum water and energy efficiency.
  • Can be used for both in and above ground systems.
  • Is a stand-alone filter, a pump must be purchased separately.
  • A 1.5hp pump will be too strong for this filter.
  • Tends to be leaky and can sometimes clog quickly.
  • Is a spin-on filter that will take two people to remove.

7. Waterway BS5205160-6S Blue Star Clearwater II Cartridge Filter System

Waterway BS5205160-6S Blue Star Clearwater II Cartridge Filter System with 1-1/2-Horsepower Pump, 150-Square Feet

Created specifically for small pools of both the in and above ground variety, this complete Blue Star system is packs a punch. You won’t need to search for additional components as everything that you’ll need is included in the package. The pump that is comes with is a powerful 1.5hp pump, and the system even includes a leaf strainer and six foot three pronged grounded cord.

Pros

Cons

  • Great for both above ground and small in ground pools.
  • Complete system of pump and filter.
  • Includes all hoses, adapters, converters and connectors.
  • The pump motor is very loud, so it’s best to run in when you’re either away from home or doing something that doesn’t require quiet and tranquility.
  • There have been some complaints that it doesn’t develop enough pressure for adequate output.
  • 1.5hp pump may not be strong enough and may have to be replaced. Has the potential to throw off the balance of your pool if the pump isn’t strong enough.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

small sand filter for pool

DE filters are unique small swimming pool filters. They’re made of a very fine naturally occurring powder comprised of the fossilised remains of Diatoms which are a form of algae. The powder is so fine that it filters out just about everything that’s in your pool water. It’s also relatively inexpensive and many believe the best pool filter, but it is a more hands on form of filtration than others.

Because of the way that the filter works, you’ll have to add the powder to it yourself, and then remove it as well, when replacement it needed. The great thing is that they last on average about ten years. The filter parts will need periodic soaking to get rid of calcium deposits, but a special cleaner is available for this and only needs to be used overnight with added water.

  • DE filters are great for the person that wants a completely natural system.
  • They are more expensive but regarded as the best filters on the market
  • Are the longest lasting filters available
  • Filters out the most debris and fine particulates of all filters.

8. Hayward EC50AC Perflex Extended-Cycle D.E. Filter

Hayward EC50AC Perflex Extended-Cycle Above-Ground / in-ground Pools D.E. Filter up to 30,000 gallons

This DE filter is a pretty versatile fellow what with being able to be used in both in and above ground filters and having a filter capacity of 30,000 gallons. Because this is a DE filter, you’ll get the most comprehensive cleaning experience, as it will clean even things that you aren’t seeing.

Pros

Cons

  • Should only be used with oval pools 28-33ft and round pools 18-39ft
  • Can be used with both in ground and above ground pools.
  • Bump handle causes the flex-tubes to clean themselves of dirt and filter powder.
  • Backflow is prevented by integral check valve when pump is off.
  • Injection molded one piece corrosion free filter.
  • A pump is unfortunately not included with this system, you will need at least a 1.5hp.
  • Plastic it’s made from is somewhat fragile and prone to breakage.
  • There are also no instructions in the package so you’ll need to search for installation and maintenance instructions.

9. Hayward EC50C92S Perflex Extended-Cycle 1-Horsepower D.E. Filter System

Hayward EC50C92S Perflex Extended-Cycled 1-Horsepower D.E. Filter System

A powerful and complete system, this DE filter system is designed to be used with in ground pools, but also includes a 1.5hp power-flo matrix pump intended for above ground pools. It also includes two six foot hoses, hose adapters and clamps as well as the instructions needed for easy, worry free installation. The capacity is 3,000 gallons per hour.

Pros

Cons

  • Simple installation, corrosion free, injection molded and easily winterized.
  • Has option for chlorine feeder on included platform base.
  • Includes two pumps for use with above and in-ground pools.
  • Pump timer feature available on unit.
  • Designed to withstand continuous use.
  • Newer model a secondary skimmer basket for catching more debris.
  • This unit does have some issues with leaking, so you may need to find a way to secure couplings to prevent that.
  • The suction pump has also been known to lose it’s abilities rather quickly and may need to be replaced often.
  • Pumping this filter is the only way to assure backwashing so you’ll have to keep up with that manually to ensure that your chemicals are circulating properly.
  • May need to purchase new suction pump and hosing frequently.

Why Do You Need A Filter For A Small Pool?

Now that you’ve settled on the shape, size and use for your pool, let’s talk about keeping the pool healthy so that you can continue to use it safely. In order for water to stay healthy and not have all manner of terrible things breed in it, it needs to be in constant movement. Think about these things:

  • Would you swim in a river or the lake if it were obviously dirty or otherwise not so great looking?
  • Imagine a stench coming off a body of water, would you willing wade in a splash around? Or would you give something like that a wide berth?
  • Just because you’re unable to see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

These are all things that could happen. Because pool water is still, it needs external help to maintain health. You can surely try to keep your pool in motion manually, but you will never have the amount of time, strength or the microscopic eyesight needed to keep your pool completely clean and clear. How do we accomplish that then? Filters and pump systems to the rescue.

small pool with filter

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We use pool systems to move still water to maintain health. But the filter isn’t only important to physical health of the swimmer, it’s also crucial to your overall pool health. A filter and pump system are essential to making sure that the chemicals that are used to maintain your pool are in good balance. If your pool is out of balance or has no filter, things such as these can happen;

  • As debris falls into the pool, so do contaminants and bacteria, they need to be removed or risk the chance of illnesses small and great.
  • A pump will pull the water and push it out through the filter to clean it and catch debris.
  • Filters will then remove debris and contaminants that cause the risk of bacterial growth, and hoses will return the now clean water to the pool.
  • Heavy pool usage can cause pool water and chemicals to become out of balance.
  • Water that is consistently out of balance leads to scaling on pool surfaces, massive corrosion of equipment. That leads to heightened costs associated with repairing and replacing equipment.

What We’ve Discovered Together So Far

So we’ve learned just about everything that we possibly could about small pools haven’t we? Most notably I think we discovered that they aren’t always what we think they will be. We’ve seen that they can be everything from exercise mediums. Simply pools for relaxing or wading around. Or they can be elaborate, decorative affairs.

We’ve learned that even though our small pools may be less expensive and much less labour intensive than the big boys, they’re still as deserving of all the loving care we can bestow on them. And in order to maintain them what we need to do is filter like our lives depend it, because it very well could.

My hope is that everything that we’ve done together today has brought you to a clear picture of what you want in a small pool filter. But not only that, now that you’ve gained all the knowledge you need to do it all yourself, perhaps you can pass this on to someone else in need somewhere in the future. So, go forth and enjoy your pools my friends.

BONUS VIDEO!