Keeping your above ground pool water sparkling clean requires a high quality above ground pool pump. Not only is a clean swimming environment vital to your family’s safety, but it is also a requirement of most local and homeowners association pool codes.
Given how many manufacturers and designs there are, pickling an above ground pool pump that meets local requirements, keeps your above ground swimming pool clean and doesn’t drive up your energy bill can be a challenging process. What features matter most? What flow rate do you need to keep your water clean? Is a sand filter superior to a cartridge filter? What type of pump motor is going to be the most energy efficient. These are important questions that require serious consideration.
This ultimate review and buyer’s guide will make your buying process significantly easier and ensure you have the right above ground pool pump for your above ground swimming pool.
Selecting the Best Above Ground Pool Pumps in January, 2020
1. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
2 year Limited Warranty
2. Hayward SP1580X15
90 days of the receipt
3. Intex Krystal Clear 2150 GPH
30 Day Return Policy
4. Sand Master Soft Sided
1 Year Warranty
5. Hayward SP2610X15 Super Pump
2 Year Warranty
What Type Of Above Ground Pool Pumps Is Recommended For You?
In general terms, the best above ground pool pump for your swimming pool needs to meet specific requirements. The most important factor you need to determine is what local laws, ordinances, and HOA codes apply to your swimming pool. Many of these rules also dictate the type of pump you may install to ensure your pool is up to code. You also need to determine the required pump flow rate for your pool’s capacity. Once you have those two factors figured out, you are ready to shop for an above ground pool pump.
Recommended Top 6 Above Ground Pool Pump
#1. Intex 3000 Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump - (Editor’s Choice)
Well known for their superior quality and longevity, Intex pool pumps use an all-natural sand filter to keep particulates and other water contaminants out of your swimming pool water. This 16-inch model ha a flow rate of 3,000 GPH (gallons per hour), making it suitable for 4-foot deep above ground pools measuring 30-feet across with a capacity up to 19,600 gallons.
There is also a built in 24-hour timer that allows you to control how often your pump runs, allowing you to control your energy costs. Best of all, the integrated 6-way valve on the top of the unit makes using the primary pump functions a simple matter of rotating the lever. All in all, this is a powerful above ground pool pump that requires less maintenance and provides superior reliability.
#2. Hayward SP1580X15
Nothing runs like a Hayward, and the remarkably quiet SP1580X15 Power-Flo Series 1.5 HP is no exception. The case and housing are constructed of heavy-duty thermoplastic, making it impervious to sunlight, cracking and corrosion.
This superior construction material also helps keep the 1.5HP motor quieter than most models in its product range.
Additionally, the top of the debris basket is transparent, allowing you to easily check if the large debris basket needs to be extracted and cleaned without shutting the system down.
Furthermore, the SP1580X15 is exceptionally easy to maintain. Turn off the pump, close the intake valve, and pull the easy-to-remove drain plug. Need to empty the debris basket? Turn off the pump, twist the clear basket cover, pull and dump the filter basket. Bottom line, this is an easy to operate, quiet and powerful pool pump that will provide you with years of sparkling pool water and reliable operation.
#3. Intex Krystal Clear 2150 GPH
Offering a few more extras than the Intex KC3000, the KC2150 model has a lower flow rate but more to offer. Thanks to the integrated sand filter, your maintenance costs stay low since the filter materials only needs exchanging about every 5 years.
The 2150 model also includes Intex E.C.O. (Electrolytic Oxidation) system to keep your water clean while reducing the necessary chlorine content to maintain healthy pool water.
Softer, gentler water also makes for a better swimming experience for everyone who visits your pool, too.
Best of all, this unit has an integrated 12 hour timer to help you control your energy costs and minimize the noise level of your pumps operation throughout the day. Keep your above ground pool water clean and soft, and keep your noise level lower with an Intex KC2150 with E.C.O.
#4. Sand Master Soft Sided Above Ground Pool Sand Filter System
Ideal for smaller above ground pools, the Sand Master Soft Sided filter is an excellent and economical choice for maintaining clean water in pools with a capacity under 9600 gallons. The 12-inch tank can hold up to 42 lbs. of sand for keeping your pool water sparkling clean, and the 4-way valve makes regular maintenance tasks quick and easy thanks to its intuitive design.
Best of all, this pool pump runs off a standard 115V electrical cord, so there is no special wiring to install or connect to power. Set the pump in place after adding sand, connect the 1.5 inch hoses, plug it in and you are ready to go. If you are looking for a cost effective pool pump solution for your smaller above-ground pool, the Sand Master is definitely the pump for you.
#5. Hayward SP2610X15 Super Pump 1.5 HP Pool Pump
Looking for a serious workhorse to keep your above ground pool water sparkling? The Hayward SP2620X15 Super Pump 1.5 HP is the pump for you. Available in both single and dual-speed models, the SP2620X15 has a flow rate ideal for small to medium size above ground pools, and the integrated filter basket helps keep larger debris and other particulates from fouling up your pump and filtration system.
Additionally, the filter basket cover is transparent for quick spot checks, and the top has over sized maintenance bolts for tool-less removal and superior protection against leaks and improper sealing when the pump is in operation. Best of all, the Hayward Super Pump 26020X15 is easy to install and connect to power. If you are looking for a tough-as-nails dependable pool pump, definitely consider installing a Hayward SP2610X15.
#6. Pro 2400GPH 13" Sand Filter Above Ground Swimming Pool Pump
Moreover, with an integrated pressure gauge, easy to exchange basket filter and a sand-based fine filtration system, this pump gives you cleaner pool water with less work and routine maintenance than many much more expensive models. Best of all, the integrated 4-way valve on top makes routine maintenance a breeze. If you have an above ground swimming pool under 10,000 gallons, the Pro 2400 GPH is an excellent option that won’t break your budget or cost you a fortune to maintain.
How to Choose the Best Above Ground Pool Pump
When you are checking out the specifications of a prospective pool pump, the most important one to verify is the flow rate. Once you’ve verified the flow rate in GPH/GPM (gallons per minute) matches your pool capacity, you still need to make certain the motor has sufficient power to run long enough to keep your water clean.
Can your prospective pump handle the capacity of your pool, and if so what is its horsepower (HP) rating? Most small to medium sized pools are fine with a 1.5HP motor, but if you have a larger above ground pool with a high capacity, you may need a 2.0HP motor. Look closely at the performance table on the box of most pool pumps to find answers to these important questions.
After you’ve figured out what type of power you need for your pool pump, your next concern should be with energy efficiency. Even 1.5HP pool pumps can use a significant amount of electricity over the course of a season, and you want to ensure your swimming pool upkeep isn’t outpacing your budget.
Specifications for typical usage are generally listed in the specifications table in the manual, but if they aren’t you may have to do a little digging online or asking around a pool supply shop to find the answer. This is an especially important consideration before purchasing a pool pump, as nobody wants an expensive utility bill as a surprise in the mail.
Even well-known brands can sometimes cut back on quality materials if they are attempting to offer a low cost alternative to their high end equipment. Check out the specifications on your pool pump prior to purchase, and ensure it is made of plastic designed to resist impact damage, sunlight and heat damage.
The last thing you want is a pool pump that degrades over time and springs a leak that renders the pump effectively useless. Look for models that use thermoplastics or list their materials as UV and pool heat resistant.
It’s rare to see any electrical appliance that doesn’t have double or triple backup systems to prevent overload or damage due to a failure in the electrical system. That being said, you still want to make sure that every possible safety precaution has been integrated into the design. Surge protection and overload breakers are essential features, and you should never install a pump without these safety precautions and an official UL listing.
Ease of Installation
Hooking up a pool pump has a fairly shallow learning curve, but you want to confirm it has a standard 3-prong electrical cord and uses standard 1.5-inch intake and drain ports. If the pump requires you to wire it directly into your homes electrical system or uses non-standard ports, you may want to avoid purchasing that model since it will require a bit more installation skill compared to other models.
Cartridge filter systems for swimming pools definitely do an exceptional job at keeping water clean and clear. However, they are often expensive to replace, and they do require fairly frequent replacement to maintain optimal flow rate.
Sand filters are much more cost effective and only need to fresh sand about once a year. You can let them go as long as five years, but many owners swap their sand out every season to maintain the cleanest possible water. Decide before you go shopping which filtration system is right for you and your budget.
How To Set Up Above Ground Pool Pump
Installing your pool pump is a simple process that takes little time if you follow directions closely. I’d recommend putting some paving stones or concrete slabs down and ensuring they are level before placing your pool pump. A solid base help keeps the pump level and prevents future problems due to the pump and filter not being on level ground. Once you’ve got your pump placed, connect your standard 1.5” hoses to the intake and exhaust ports.
Check to make any filter basket systems are closed and that hose seals are snug before plugging in the system. Make sure the pump is off and connect it to power. Flip the on switch, and let your pump run for a while to ensure it is functioning correctly. If you’ pump doesn’t have a built in timer, consider purchasing a Smart Home outlet rated for the heavy amperage draw of your pool pump and set it up to turn your pool pump on and off at intervals throughout the day. This not only provides you with cleaner pool water, but it also allows you to keep your energy costs to a minimum.
Safety Concerns For Above Ground Pool Pump
Make sure that your power cord is well insulated and kept well away from your swimming pool itself. Only buy UL listed pool pumps, and regularly check electrical wiring for signs of wear or damage. Immediately replace any loose or damaged electrical cables, and if you are not proficient in electrical work you are always better off hiring an expert than attempting to DIY the repair yourself. Above all, practice common sense and keep cables out of walkways and away from water.
For my money, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump is the best value. It has more than enough power to clean most small to medium size pools efficiently, it maintains your water quality without requiring a separate system and it uses an all natural sand filter. Combined with the easy to check filter basket and superior energy efficiency compared to similarly priced models, this would be my first choice when shopping for replacement pump or when installing a new pool. Definitely check out the "Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump" when you go looking for a new pool pump yourself.