Sand vs Cartridge Pool Filters: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: May 26, 2021

Which pool filter is best on your pool? Sand or Cartridge? It’s a superb query with some severe monetary implications, however earlier than we are able to reply it utterly we have to outline a number of phrases.


Pool filters are rated by the measurement of the particles and particles they’ll catch. The smaller the particles, the higher the filter. Pool filters use microns as their measurement. So what the heck is a micron?

A micron, additionally referred to as a micrometer is a measurement in the Metric System. It equals one-millionth of a meter. Meters keep in mind, are just a bit bit shorter than a yard. That’s good nevertheless it’s arduous to visualise, so let’s make it a little bit extra sensible.

A human hair is 50 microns in diameter. Take one among the hairs out of your brush or comb and look at it. A cross-section of it’s 50 microns. So, after we speak about the measurement of particles a pool filter can catch, do not forget that and use it for comparability.

swimming pool filter room

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Surface Area

Pool filters are additionally rated by their floor space, that’s, how a lot floor is obtainable for water to stream over or via to catch particles. The extra floor space is obtainable, the higher the filter will work. Makes sense, proper?

Because of variations in the means they’re constructed, sand and cartridge filters have very completely different numbers for his or her floor space. Most sand filters could have between 3 to 7 sq. toes of floor space, whereas cartridge filters will common between 200 to 500 sq. toes.

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sand pool filter

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If you take a look at the silica sand used for pool filters underneath a microscope, every grain will appear like a tiny boulder with sharp, jagged edges. Sand may be very porous, and the sharp edges on the grains of sand catch particles and particles as water carries them via the filter. Sand filters will usually catch particles in the 20-40 micron vary.

As time goes on, the edges on every grain of sand will progressively put on down till they resemble clean river rocks. At that time, they gained’t catch a lot particles and it’s time to interchange the sand. This occurs about each 5-8 years. Sand is reasonable nevertheless it’s additionally heavy. This means altering it’s a whole lot of work. Allow your self a few hours to do it proper.


cleaning swimming pool cartridge filter

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Cartridges have a porous membrane that water can stream via. The cloth is what catches particles and particles. These catch a lot smaller particles than sand filters do in the 10-15 micron vary.

The membranes in cartridge filters put on out a lot sooner than sand does, in order that they have to get replaced each 1-3 years. They’re far more costly than sand so the value will probably be extra. They’re very light-weight although, so altering them is a breeze.

Sand Filters: Pros & Cons

Sand filters had been the first kind of filter invented for swimming swimming pools. A filter normally consists of a spherical or rectangular tank on a stand. A multiport valve is on prime. The tank must be full of a number of hundred kilos of filter sand, i.e., silica sand. How a lot will rely on the measurement of the filter.

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Different measurement swimming swimming pools will want completely different sizes of filters. For occasion, a ten,000-gallon swimming pool will want a sand filter that’s rated at 3.0 sq. toes, whereas a 40,000-gallon pool will want a sand filter that’s rated at 6.9 sq. toes.

XtremepowerUS 24 Above Inground Swimming Pool Sand Filter System

Water from the pool is pushed via the filter, which cleans it. Then the water is pumped again into the pool. As particles and international particles accumulate in the filter, the strain required to push water via the filter will progressively improve. Once it reaches twice its regular working vary, it’s time to wash the filter.

This is completed by turning the setting on the multiport valve to “waste”. The water will stream in the wrong way it usually does, washing the particles out of the filter and squirting it out a valve on the filter. This water both goes into your yard or a drain pipe. This course of is named backwashing, and it lowers the water stage in the pool.

Once you’ve completed backwashing you’ll have so as to add new water to the pool and steadiness the chemical compounds in the water.

Overall, sand filters are low cost, simple to make use of, and keep. They’re reliable and long-lasting.

Cartridge Filters: Pros & Cons

These filters look lots like the air filter in your automobile solely taller, in order that they’re tube-shaped. They match down inside a 2-piece tank that has a detachable prime. These are normally tall and slender in comparison with a sand filter.

Like a sand filter, completely different measurement swimming pools will want completely different measurement filters. A ten,000-gallon pool will want a cartridge filter that’s rated at 100-200 sq. toes, whereas a 40,000-gallon pool will want a cartridge filter that’s rated at 500+ sq. toes.

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Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Cartridge Pool Filter

Because cartridge filters have such a big floor space for catching particles, they don’t want almost as a lot strain as sand filters do. Lower strain means much less work on your pump, which interprets into much less put on and tear on it, thus extending its workable life.

Cleaning a cartridge filter is straightforward. When the water strain at the pump reaches 10 PSI, it’s time to wash it. Take the prime off the tank and take away the filter. Then wash it off with the backyard hose. Put the filter again in the tank and safe the prime.

Overall, cartridge filters have a better preliminary value than sand filters and the cartridges themselves are costlier than sand. This is balanced by the ease of cleansing them and the reality you don’t lose water by backwashing, then having so as to add extra water.


If value is a matter, choose the sand filter. They’ve been round a very long time and are a well-liked possibility. If ease of use and upkeep are your priorities, then the cartridge filter is the alternative for you.

Either one will provide you with years of enjoyment and clear water in your swimming pool.

Featured Image Credit: Ralf Geithe, Shutterstock

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