As far as pool packages go and pool quality I will just say this, when buying from an ‘independent retailer” the quality of the pool and the components are very similar.
However when talking about pool filtration every pool guy has their own opinion and it all basically comes down to the quality of the filtration vs. ease of use and cost of ownership.
In this quick article I will break down the 3 types of filters and pool pump sizing for an above ground pool. I will also let you know what I think is the best option for new pool owners.
Sand only filters down to 20 microns on its BEST day, but they are very easy to use as their is no media to clean, no DE to add. There is the need for back-washing however which wastes a lot of water, and the backwash valves have a few moving parts and gaskets that can break down and need repair/replacement from time to time.
Back-washing is the only way to relieve filter pressure with sand and thus uses the most water by far our of all types of filtration.
D.E. powder offers the absolute finest filtration, down to 2 microns! However it requires the most maintenance and has the highest cost of ownership. The filter media needs to be back-washed regularly, therefore using a lot of water. Also the media inside that hold the DE needs to be cleaned a few times a year and acid washed at least once a year. Your water will sparkle but you will fight with the filter every once in a while and there are lots of parts to DE filters that break down and need replacement over time.
DE powder is also a very nasty carcinogen and is really bad to breath in has it contains silica, very nasty hazardous stuff!
Cartridge is the Goldilocks zone of pool filtration in my opinion and what we use on all our in-ground and above ground pools. Large capacity cartridge filters filter down to 7-10 microns, require very little maintenance and are super easy to use. NO nasty DE powder, no back-washing, (saving you water and $$) and hardly any parts. It contains just a cartridge (that lasts 5-7 years) and a tank, no valves or anything.
The Sta-rite PLM100 cartridge that we use is super easy to take out and hose down when needed, which is not often, once you get the pool cleaned up in the beginning of spring most of my customers do not touch the filter all year! It also offers less resistance on the motor and gives you more flow, turning the water over more times a day which helps keep algae at bay.
Also, Unlike DE opening the filter to take out the cartridge requires no tools.
You will not notice the difference in micron filtration as compared to DE 98% of the time and the ease of cartridge easily makes up for it.
I never want to bash anyone in the industry but any pool guy that is trying to sell you anything larger than a 1hp pump is either uniformed or selling you a bill of goods.
All above ground pools use 1 1/4″ or more common 1 1/2″ plumbing, you can only force so much water through that size hose. So the more water you try to FORCE through it the more friction you create and thus the more energy you will use.
To be totally honest even 1hp is too much pump for most pools, but it is very hard to get 3/4 or 1/2hp motors in the pool industry any more (due to marketing battles of years past!)
THe Sta-rite PLM100 kit I have been selling with every above ground pool for 12 years and it does a great job of keeping the pools clean and keeping maintenance to a minimum. We do offer our customers the option of upgrading to the DE version – the PLD50 however cartridge is what we prefer especially for those who have never owned a pool before.