Pool Filter Sizing

This guide explains how you should size your pool filter correctly. Before you can select the correct filter for your pool, you must first select the correct pump for your 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 imbalance 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 build-up may cause cracks in the filter tank causing it to explode. 

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. 

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.

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 the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

If you have any other questions about pool and spa products please do let us know - we are here to help!

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