How To Size a Pool Filter

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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Before you can selct the correct filter for your pool, you must first select the correct pump for you pool. Your pool filter must be matched to your pool pump. If the filter is too small relative to the pump. the pump will generate more water pressure in the filter than the filter is able to handle. This inbalance will quickly break down the filtering material of the filter which will greatly diminish the effectiveness of the filter. In more extreme cases, the high pressure buildup may cause cracks in the filter tank causing iit to explode. This guide covers how you should size your pool filter correctly.

Step by Step


Step 1

SIZE POOL - A standard pool circulation rule is to be able to filter all that water in your pool at least once a day. Customers generally run their single speed pump for an 8 hour period, so they require a pump/filter system that will recycle their pool water in an 8 hr period. The first step then is to calculate the total gallons in your pool. See our guide on "How to Size a Pool Pump for Your In-Ground Pool" for the formulas required to size your pool. For this guide, we will assume a typical in-ground pool size of 20,000 gallons

Step 2

DETERMINE GPM REQUIRED - After you have the number of gallons in your pool (20,000 gallons for this example), you will have to calculate the Gallons Per Minute (GPM) required to filter 20,000 gallons in 8 hours. To come up with this flow rate first divide your calculated gallons by 8 for Gallons Per Hour (GPH). Then divide that number by 60 to get Gallons Per Minute (GPM). For our example of 20,000 gallons that's: 20,000 / 8 hours or 2,500 GPH divided by 60 mins/hour or 42 GPM.

Step 3

DETERMINE Feet of Head - As water flows through the system piping between the pool and the pump, it will meet with resistance to flow according to factors like the length of the piping, number of turns (elbows) and the diameter of the piping. This resistance is called "Feet of Head or "Head". As Head increases, your pools actual GPM will decrease. Calculation of Head can be involved and is generally done during th initial installation of the pool. However for a rough estimated use the average of the lengths of the suction lines between the pool and the pump. Most basic in-ground pools have a head of 40 to 50'.We will assume 45' for this example.

Step 4

DETERMINE PUMP SIZE - Now that you have determined your pools required GPM and its Feet of Head, you have the information required to select your pool.'s pump size. Go to the description page of the style of pump you would like to purchase. Many pump manufacturers will provide a chart on this description page showing the HP required for your particular GPM and Foot of Head requirement. For example, say you wanted the popular Hayward Super Pump. An abbreviated version of the Hayward Super Pump Performance Page is shown at the left. Based on the data above, we are looking for a pump that will handle 42 GPM with a 45 Feet of Head. According to the chart for 50 Feet of Head (closest above to 45'), we need a pump between 3/4 HP (31 GPM) and 1 HP (50 GPM). Since we always go to the higher GPM, we would select the 1 HP pump.

Step 5

DETERMINE FILTER SIZE - The size of your pool filter is directly related to the pool pump you have selected. If your pool filter is too small for the pump, there will be additional strain on the pump motor as it tries to push water through and meets resistance at the filter. This will eventually burn out the pump motor and your filtration will also be compromised. We recommend over-sizing the filter to be absolutely certain it can handle the flow coming from the pump. So in this case, instead of getting a filter rated at exactly 42 GPM, you should select one that is a little higher – around 60 GPM would be fine.

Step 6

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS - There are a couple of other considerations that should be mentioned in your selection of a pool pump and filter. The above calculations are based on a basic pool configuration with no extra water features: fountains, spas, waterfalls, solar heating, and in floor cleaning systems. The features generally require higher GPM rates which equates to a higher HP pumps/filters. Also if your pool requires greater than 60 GPM you may need at least 2" diameter suction pipes. Suction pipes of 1 1/2" have a physical limit of 60 GPM. 2" pipes can handle up to 100 GPM.

Step 7

DETERMINE AG POOL FILTER SIZE - The size of your system is mostly determined on the size of your above ground pool. The gallons found inside your pool will give you the horse power needed for your pump. A simple rule to follow is you should be able to clear all of the gallons of your pool in an 8 hour period of time. You can use the following as a guideline.

• Above Ground Pool up to 24 Ft. Round = 1 HP pump
• Above Ground Pool over 24 Ft. Round = 1 ½ HP pump


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Inyopools  Posted: 03/09/2018 11:12 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

ax3bl4d3 - We would recommend a Hayward Star Clear Plus 90 Sq Ft. Filter 1 1/2" Ports for your 1.5 HP Hayward pump.

ax3bl4d3  Posted: 03/07/2018 21:54 PM 

16x32 above ground with 1.5hp hayward pump. what size minimum cartridge filter should I look at?

Inyopools  Posted: 03/07/2018 11:34 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous - Yes, you can use a C3030 cartridge filter with a 1 HP above ground pump. It is much larger than you need, but there is no limit to the upper size of a filter. You just won't have to clean it as frequently.

Anonymous  Posted: 03/06/2018 9:15 AM 

Can I put a C3030 hayward cartrige filter with an aboveground pool with a 1 hp pump?

Inyopools  Posted: 02/20/2018 14:34 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Drodn - Your pool contains about 16,875 gallons of water. For this size pool, I would recommend a 1.5 Hp pump like the PureLine Prime Pool Pump and a Hayward 27" Sand Filter with Top Mount Valve.

Drodri  Posted: 02/18/2018 16:26 PM 

I have a 15' X 30' fiberglass pool. The depth runs from 3.5' to 6' so I assume average depth at 5' to be conservative. Would a 1.5 hp pump and a 21" sand filter be the correct size for my pool? Thank you.

Jaki  Posted: 01/16/2018 8:59 AM 

Hi, I have a 22X52 Colman above ground pool and trying to determine what size sand filter. Thanks !

Inyopools  Posted: 11/13/2017 13:52 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Joe - A Pentair 1 1/2 hp VS pump would be a good choice for your size pool with the roof mounted solar panels. You didn't say why you hate your current filter other than having to clean it twice a week. If your want to switch to a sand filter, I would suggest something like a Hayward Sand Filter with Top Mount Valve 30 Inch Tank - S310T2.

Inyopools  Posted: 11/13/2017 10:19 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Scott- You can never have a filter that is too big for the pump. Many dealers even recommend upsizing the filter by 25% so there is no chance of the pump blowing out the filter. A larger filter just means that it will last longer between cleanings.

Joe  Posted: 11/12/2017 10:01 AM 

I am looking to change out my pump and filter for my 15000 gal pool. I have 6 solar panels on my roof 10 to 12 feet above the pump and 2 little water sprays at the pool. I currently have a 1hp Starite single speed pump and a 150 Starite filter. I am cleaning this filter twice a week and hate it. Would like to know if a Pentair 1 1/2 hp VS pump would be sufficient and what size filter would I need. Piping head without solar is approx. 40 to 50 ft.

Scott  Posted: 11/04/2017 22:08 PM 

I have a dayton 1 1/2 HP pump grainger #5PXC5A thats rated at 10ft/77, 40ft/51.7. I need a new filter and have been offered less than 6 months old at a very good price but I'm afraid its too much filter for the pump. It's a Hayward Stay Clear model CL1200, can you tell me if it will work?

Inyopools  Posted: 09/28/2017 12:09 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (3600 gal pool) - Your cartridge in your filter may be clogged with oils and chemicals that are difficult to wash out of the folds. If you haven't changed your cartridge this year, you might buy a new one. If you want to switch to a sand filter, look at the next size up, 35 GPM. Your current filter is 25 GPM (1500 GPH).

Anonymous  Posted: 09/26/2017 10:49 AM 

Hello, I have a roughly 3600 gallon frame pool. It is running a 1500GPH filter cartridge pump (Type c filter). We have fought with cloudy water and chemistry all summer, mainly chlorine, so we added a SWG. It was great for a couple weeks, now cloudy again. All numbers within range. Is our filter too small? I'm cleaning it every other day! Could a sand filter with higher GPH help?

Inyopools  Posted: 09/25/2017 13:41 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

maurice - I'd recommend a sand filter like Hayward's Sand Filter w/ Top Mount Valve 27 Inch Tank 2" Valve - S270T2 for your size pool.

maurice  Posted: 09/23/2017 13:30 PM 

Hi, I have a 15000-18000 gal pool. I am trying to replace my cartrige filter with a sand on. what size do I need? (1.5hp pump. thx

Inyopools  Posted: 09/07/2017 12:38 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

mike - See our article on "Pool Filter Information" for a description of the three most common filter types.

mike  Posted: 09/05/2017 14:12 PM 

Daughter purchased new home with above ground oval 20,000 gal pool. We know nothing about pools I have down loaded you book. thanks. Q: which is better sand or cart filter any other type?? Mike

Inyopools  Posted: 09/04/2017 11:47 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Jeff - We would recommend the Hayward S210T Filter w/ 1.5 HP Matrix Pump which is the set I think you are looking at. The S210T sand filter takes 200 lbs. of sand.

Jeff  Posted: 09/02/2017 13:18 PM 

We have a 52" 30' round above ground. We need a pump and filter combo. I am looking at the Hayward 21" with the 1.5 hp motor. I am planning on getting it online and was wanting to be sure. Btw, how much sand is in this filter?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/25/2017 12:50 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

hol - For your size pool, I would recommend a Hayward VL Series Sand Filter System, but I do not know how it will integrate with your skimmer filtration system.

hol  Posted: 08/22/2017 15:32 PM 

We have a 16x32 above ground. Needing new pump and filter system
We've always gone with sand filters so would like to stick with that. We have a double filtration system through skimmer and at the base of the pool. What size pump/filter is recommended?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/22/2017 13:33 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Frank b - A 1 1/2 HP pump with a 19" filter is generally what we recommend for an above ground pool larger than 24'. However, if you are having trouble keeping your pool clear, you might go to a 22" sand filter.

Frank b  Posted: 08/21/2017 21:11 PM 

Gotta 33' x 52" with a 19" sand filter and 1-1/2hp pump. Seems small to me what do you think?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/07/2017 16:35 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Rob - Since you have 1 1/2" pipe, I wouldn't go over 1 1/2 Hp on the pump. See Hayward 1 1/2 Hp Super Pump, SP2610X15 as an example. With that size pump, I'd recommend something like the Hayward Star Clear Plus 175 Sq Ft. Cartridge filter - C17502 or the Hayward Sand Filter with Top Mount Valve 27 Inch Tank - S270T.

Inyopools  Posted: 08/07/2017 10:26 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Hope - For your size motor, I would recommend a Hayward Sand Filter W/Top Mount Valve 20" Tank. They are currently on sale.

Hope  Posted: 08/04/2017 10:53 AM 

I have a 13000 inground pool, a 3/4 hp hayward pump and a s200 (24" top) sand filter. I would like to change out the filter. What size do I need?

Rob  Posted: 08/03/2017 12:02 PM 

I have a 40,000 gallon in ground pool with 50 ft head 1-1/2" pipe. It has an old sand filter and 1hp motor that I'd like to change. What size should I use if I go with a new sand filter and pump? What would I use if I went with a cartridge filter and pump? Thank you.

Inyopools  Posted: 08/01/2017 12:58 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

John Smith - You are working this backwards. The size of a pump depends on your pool size and construction. Then your select a filter to match the GPM of the pump. However, a C1200 is frequently used with a 1 hp to 1 1/2 hp pump.

John smith  Posted: 07/31/2017 18:50 PM 

I have a Hayward c1200 filter what size pump do I need to run with it .what would be the biggest one u can use???

Inyopools  Posted: 07/17/2017 10:13 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Karen - Your friend's 27' pool contains a little under 17,000 gallons. For that size pool, we would recommend a pump/filter set with a 1 1/2 HP pump like Waterway's Carefree 19" Sand Filter & 1.5 HP 1Spd Pump.

Karen  Posted: 07/13/2017 13:33 PM 

My friend has a 27 foot round above ground pool 52 inch deep. What size pump and filter would you recommend?? Thanks

Inyopools  Posted: 07/10/2017 13:25 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

DisneyHeart - A 1.5 HP pump and 150 sq ft filter like the Pentair 1.5 HP OptiFlo Pump 2 Speed Twist Lock Cord W/ 150 Sq. Ft. Clean & Clear Cartridge Filter, would work fine.

DisneyHeart  Posted: 07/09/2017 16:16 PM 

We just purchased a 54x24 above ground pool. Would a 150sq foot, 1.5hp, 2speed pump/filtration system be big enough?? Or do we need the 190sq foot. We want the cartridge type. THANKS!!!!!!

Inyopools  Posted: 06/26/2017 11:31 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (ec40ac) - A filter should be able to handle about 25% more GPM water flow than the system's pump. The EC40AC filter is designed for 40 GPM. 1 HP pumps can generate up to 50-70 GPM, so you will need a larger filter.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/23/2017 16:16 PM 

I have a 27'x 52" above ground round pool. Currently using a Hayward ec40ac 1hp de filter. Is this adequate?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/20/2017 11:34 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (filter size) - The size of your filter really depends on the size of your pump. You want something about 25% larger than the average GPM of your pump. Assuming you have a 2 or 2.5 HP pump, I would recommend a filter with a 400-450 Filtration Area and a Flow Rate of 150 GPM.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/19/2017 17:54 PM 

I have a 30,000 gallon in ground pool with and average depth of 5.5'
What size cartridge filter do I need?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/17/2017 13:44 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

James - Your C1200 Star Clean Plus Cartridge Filter is a good match for your 1 1/2 HP Super Pump. The typical water flow for a 1 1/2 HP Super Pump is 70-80 GPM. The C1200 is designed to handle up to 120 GPM.

James  Posted: 06/16/2017 12:47 PM 

I have a hayward 1 1/2 super pump with a hayward c1200 star clear plus hooked to a hayward heater. This is all to a roughly 15000-17000 gallon pool and seperate spa. Is this to small of a filter

Inyopools  Posted: 06/09/2017 0:07 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Fritz - Assuming your current DE filter is something like a Hayward Pro Grid DE Filter 48 Sq Ft with a designed flow rate of 96 GPM and your current pump is 1 1/2 HP uprated, I'd recommend something like the Hayward Star Clear Plus 120 Sq Ft. Filter 1.5" Ports. If you have a 2 HP uprated pump, I'd recommend the next larger filter. We recommend getting a filter with a GPM capacity that is 25% larger than the pump's capacity.