Pool Sand Filter vs Cartridge Filter. Which One is the Best?

To add some pure excitement to a busy and bore life, few of people choose the swimming pool. It’s solid fun to spend laser time there, but the problem comes when it needs maintenance where cleaning is the main challenge. Many years ago people were used to cleaning their pool manually, which was a hard and lengthy process. To overcome the situation their people started to thinking use a filter on the pool which will save time and energy.

After that time Meanwhile, we have the sand filter, and cartridge filter to clean and purify pool water. Each of these contains a different type of application for a different type of pool water cleaning. From the aspect of the swimming pool owner, this makes confusion. But this good news is for you because you are now reading an article by a pool expert. And today we will try to find out what will be the best pick for you from the sand filter and cartridge filter.

A Notion to swimming pool sand filter vs a cartridge filter

All the pool filters must 4 mandatory functions. Skimmer, main drain, water outlet from deep, and filter. And All the things are controlled by the motor. Both sand and cartridge filter have those functions. Other things like the water heater, PR scale or pool ladder, etc. are not part of the filtering system. But now some advanced filter we found in the market that contains some extra feature.

To define the distinct things of those filters let’s surf its distinction.

What is a pool sand filter?

This is the most classic and the oldest type of filter for the pool. It has suction end to such water from the pool and filter it by sand and release it again. While the water passes through the filter, it is refined by sand. For filtering purposes silica sand is the best element to use in the filter. This type of filter can isolate all types of particles to 20 microns. Along with the development of technology, the sand filter has become now more advanced and contains more features.

Sand Filter

What is a pool cartridge filter?

The cartridge filter is an updated form of a pool filter. Instead of sand here, it has used a cartridge which is made of polypropylene or strands class materials. Each cartridge has its limited lifespan. After over the lifespan, this is easy to remove and install another new one inside the filter. this is the reason it is known as the modular filter. Both chemical and solid particles make pool water filthy. And the cartridge filter can such both of them and revive the water again.

Cartridge filter

Comparative efficiency and performance

The sand filter uses its sand surface to clean the water from its flow. It is counted by the TTS. Usually, a general type of sand filter can catch 3 to 5 KG TTS /m2 on its surface. Once the filter becomes loaded with dust, it got to decreases the cleaning ability. That time it needs to be backwash to get the performance back. It can detach at least20-micron elements from the water. For cleaning chemicals from the water, there is no extra function on it.

Cartridge filter does not have any specific TTS limitation because of variation in its size. This has a different size which is suitable for 100 gallons to 10,000-gallon water. It can perform to clean more fine particles (20 to 5 micron) from the pool. But the most efficient part of this filter is, that it can clean chemical things besides the particles. you never need to take alternative ways to clean chemicals from water.

Maintenance hassle and affordability

Maintenance and affordability is a huge parameter to judge a swimming pool sand filter vs a cartridge filter. Because all the pools and their owners do not go through the same situation.

To maintain a sand filter, you must check the condition of the sand randomly after a few days. Unless the surface of the sand inside goes overloaded by dust, it will stop working or go reverse. Usually, a pack of sand is enough to work for 3 to 5 years long. But if the pool water got a lot of dust, then it needs to change its sand inside, earlier than 3 months. I mean It needs to pay time to maintain and checkup. On other hand, this is pretty affordable. If you have a budget ranging from $250 to $1000, then you will have your desired sand filter for the pool easily.

But the cartridge filter comes with freedom while you will be using this thing. because people can realize the time to change the cartridge by the quality of the water. Generally, a filter can work for 3 months long. At this time, you will never need to take the extra hassle to clean chemical elements from water. Because the cartridge can clean it up on its own. But affordability can become an issue often. Most of the time, the cartridge filter is not affordable for all people. this is three-time expensive than a sand filter.

Overview of pros and cons of both types of filters

Sand filter


  • Installing and maintenance process is easy
  • Affordable and not too much expensive
  • Available all equipment and good for the pocket
  • Backwash or changing silica is not complex
  • Have a Long lifespan after installation
  • Perfect for personal pool, indoor pool, or spa


  • Need backwash regularly after a few days
  • Does not detach chemical from water
  • Does not able to clean the finest particle from water
  • Cartridge filter

Cartridge Filter


  • Finest cleaning capacity (even 5-10 micron element)
  • Clean chemicals from water
  • No need to take any hassle from backwashing
  • Easy maintenance and time saving
  • Good for the large pool


  • More Expensive
  • Need to change the cartridge after damage
  • Essential and relevant to know

Take an overview

Sand filterCartridge filter
Particle cleaning40-20 micron20 to 5 micron
Remove chemicalsN/AYes
Common Filter MediaSilica Sand 0.45mm-0.55mmPleated Polyester
Backwashing RequirementYesNo
Filter lifespan3 years3 month
Water Use (Cleaning)MoreLess
System lifespan18-20 years3-4 years
Maintenance hassleMoreLess
AffordabilityComparably affordableExpensive

Are sand filters better than cartridge filters?

A sand filter is better than a cartridge filter when compared of the durability and costs. Cartridge filters are a bit expensive, but when comparing with the filtering capacity, required space, and maintenance, you should obviously go for the cartridge filter as this filter can catch debris and small particulates up to 10 microns, occupy lesser space and you don’t have maintenance hassles like backwashing or circulation line fixes. Just keep in mind, that you need to replace the filter cartridge more often than the sand filter.

Although the Sand filter also performed enough to make your pool water crystal clear, it’s less expensive and has a longer life span. You don’t need to replace the silica often.

Overall, If you have a small or medium-sized pool and agreed to spend a little more to reduce backwashing and maintenance hassle, go for the Cartridge filter.

Frequently asked questions

How often should a pool cartridge filter be cleaned?

The cleaning time of the cartridge is depending on the density of water and particle. But in an average type of use, this should clean at least once each 3 months.

Can I add DE to my cartridge filter?

Usually, cartridge filters can clean 20 to 5-micron elements. On the other hand, the DE filter can eliminate 1-micron things. cartridge filters are not able to maintain the DE element itself. That’s why adding DE is not a good practice.

How often should you change the sand in a pool filter?

The sand pool filter is more durable than the cartridge. Without changing it can work properly 3 or 4 years long. But at that time this is too much important to take proper maintenance.

How long does a sand pool filter last?

Usually, sand filters have a long lifespan. At least 20 years all the general types of sand filters can last. But it can last more if you take the proper maintenance.

Which is the better DE or cartridge filter?

For minimal use and satisfaction, a cartridge filter is a good option. It can separate 20-micron elements. But the DE filter can turn goes deeper.  So this is always a good option if you can afford its expense.

Is it OK to run a pool pump without a filter cartridge?

This is completely ok to run the pool pump without the filter cartridge. Often people do this thing to keep the water circulation proper way or have a check before reassembling.

Making the final decision:

In this session, long one thing I tried to convey is that, which filter you should get from pool filter from sand or cartridge depends on your demand. Having a formal conversation is not the right way to judge a swimming pool sand filter vs a cartridge filter. Remember once you install those filters on your pool, it is intricate to replace them with another type of filter. So take more time and observe more while you are choosing a filter. We have already seen that the cartridge filter is better than the sand filter in many ways. But if you have a limitation on budget and you can change sand regularly, then you can go for a sand filter for your pool.

Of course, The important thing is to check the size, capacity, water type, and other things before choosing the proper filter for you. Remember a proper filter will keep your pool water and environment hygienic and shiny. I believe you are Determined to ensure this thing.

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