How to Choose the Best Pool Pump for an Intex Pool

Your pool pump and filter are arguably the most important parts of owning an Intex pool. Their job is to function the same as your heart and kidneys do in your body to keep your blood flowing and clean. So you can see why it’s important to choose the best pool pump for your Intex pool, but how do you do that?

For small-size Intex pools, like the Easy Set range, you’ll need a pump with a flow rate of 500-2500 gpm. When choosing a pool pump for an Intex pool, consider the volume of your pool, how much you use your pool, and the maximum flow your filter can handle.

intex pool with stairs and pump
Intex type pool with stairs, filter, and pump.

Do Stock Intex Pumps and Filters Work?

You may be asking why you would need to choose another pump (and/or filter) if your Intex pool already came with one. That’s a great question, and the answer is that the stock Intex pump and filter can be a bit inadequate, depending on:

  • The size of your pool
  • Your pool’s environment
  • How you use your pool

Consider Two Intex Pools:

  • Pool One: is in a moderate climate and the water doesn’t get above ~90℉ (32.2°C) during the summer, used once per week, and there are no trees to blow leaves in the pool.
  • Pool Two: is in the Texas heat and routinely stays above ~90℉ (32.2°C) during the summer, used daily, and is surrounded by a flowering landscape.

An Intex stock pump and filter may work fine for the first pool, but it would not have a chance of keeping the second pool cleaned and sanitized effectively.

If you find that your pool water constantly gets cloudy or regularly has algae, it could be that the stock Intex filter isn’t large enough.

Now, let’s look at exactly why it’s important to have the right pump (and filter) and what else needs to be considered when choosing the best pump and filter setup for your Intex pool.

Do You Really Need a Pump and Filter for an Intex Pool?

It is highly recommended you use a pump and filter for Intex pools with a capacity of 500 gallons or more. A pump and filter is essential to keep the water clean and safe for swimming.

Beginning with the Easy Set® models and larger ones, you will definitely need a pool pump and filter to keep it clean.

The exception to needing a pump is if you have a kiddy pool or a pool that is less than 500 gallons in volume. Without a filter, be sure to drain and refill the water regularly to avoid the risk of waterborne illness, especially if there is any chance of fecal contamination.

Further Reading: 5 Ways to Keep a Kiddie Pool Clean (Best Tips from a Dad)

To keep an Intex pool clean, and any body of water, that is contained for more than a day, it needs to:

  • Be chemically treated (using sanitizer)
  • Have circulation
  • Preferably have a filtration system

This is especially applicable if you are swimming in the water or drinking it.

As mentioned, the pump is the heart of the pool’s circulatory system, pun intended, and is vital to keeping your water clean and clear. Your pool pump helps keep the water chemistry balanced by circulating the chemicals throughout the water.

One reason you need a pool pump is to move the water through your filter so that small particles that aren’t caught by the skimmer can be captured and removed by the filter.

The other reason is that without proper circulation from a pump you risk unsanitary water, cloudy water, algae outbreaks, or even worse – you and your family and friends could be exposed to a waterborne illness introduced by harmful bacteria or viruses. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria and algae.

What to Consider when Choosing a Pump for an Intex Pool

The Volume of the Pool

It’s crucial to know how many gallons of water your pool holds. This is to make sure that you choose a pump that can properly circulate the water. The pump needs to be capable of moving all the pool’s water through the pump 1-2 times in an 8-12 hour period.

If you have an undersized pump then you will not be able to move enough water through the system to keep the water sanitized and clear.

What Size Pump Do Intex Pools Need?

For pools up to 15,000 gallons (68,191 L), the pump should be at least 1HP. For pools over 15,000 (68,191 L), the pump should be at least 1.5 HP.

How Much You Will Use Your Pool

If you use your pool every day then you will need more filtration to remove the sunscreen, body oils, and other contaminants.

The Environment Around Your Pool

If you have trees or flowers around your pool then you most likely will be plagued with leaves and blooms falling into the pool. You will need to have enough circulation to keep them off the surface of your pool.

How Much Space You Have for a Pump

Some pumps come as part of a unit that includes filtration so you will need to make sure that you have enough room beside your pool to install it. This is especially true if you are going to get an aftermarket pump and filter as they are bigger than the Intex brands.

What Type of Filter You Will Use

You should be careful not to “out pump” your filter. That is, don’t choose a pump bigger than your filter’s ability to handle the water flow. All filters have a maximum flow rate.

Check the maximum GPM rating for your filter and match your pump to that number.

Check Customer Reviews

See how well the pump has held up and what others think about it. Look at any problems other consumers have had.

Do You Need a Filter for an Intex Pool Too?

That’s an easy answer, yes you need a filter! Remember, the pool filter is like the kidneys of the pool, it is responsible for removing debris from the water so that your water is always clean and clear.

There are a few different types of filters that can be used with Intex pools and you should be sure that you choose one that is appropriately sized for your pool.

The purpose of the filter is to clean the water by removing things such as dirt, insects, and basically anything that isn’t caught in your skimmer basket. Without a properly sized filter, you will not have clear water and will have to clean the filter more frequently.

Types of Filters and Maintenance

There are three common types of filters that work with Intex pools:

  • Cartridge Filters – Intex cartridge filters are branded as Krystal Clear™ and are able to filter 330 (1,500 L) to 15,000 gallons (68,191 L) per hour (gph) depending on their size, and are capable of filtering particles as small as 10 microns. As with any filter, they should be cleaned periodically to remove dirt and debris that get lodged in the pleats.
  • Sand Filters – Intex sand filters are capable of filtering 1,200 to 3,000 gph and are only able to filter particles up to 20 microns, which means that cartridge filters may be a better option.
  • DE (diatomaceous earth) Filters – Although not manufactured by Intex, there are some DE filters made for above-ground pools that work really well. DE filters particles down to 3 microns in size so they are the clear winner for removing the finest of contaminants.

It isn’t necessary to buy the Intex brand of filters. There are many quality brands out there such as Hayward and Pentair just to name a couple.

Further Reading: What’s the Best Pool Filter? Sand vs. Cartridge vs. DE

Pool Pump & Filter Recommendations for Intex Pools

As mentioned, a key step in choosing the correct size pump/filter is to make sure that it is sized for the pool volume and your particular environment and use of the pool. Remember, you are aiming to turn your water over (circulate the entire volume of the pool) at least once in an 8-hour period.

Here are three recommendations for pumps and filters based on what we classify as small, medium, and large Intex pools.

It’s pretty obvious that there is a wide range of water volume within and between the sizes of pools, which is precisely why you need to make sure that you have the right pump and filter for the job.

Small Size Intex Pools

For pools: 500 gallons (2,273 L) to 2,800 gallons (12,729 L).

The pumps and filters included with the smaller pools range from 500 GPH to 2,500 GPH, but there are limited options for filters. All but the 2,500 GPH combinations use the same sized filters so you will not get much of an improvement on filtration capability.

There aren’t many aftermarket options for smaller-sized Intex pools. A common solution is to purchase a large Intex pump and filter system.

Krystal Clear™ Cartridge Filter Pump

  • For ~$15 more you can upgrade from a 530 GPH to a 1,000 GPH pump
  • Pump and cartridges function as one complete unit
  • Comes with the appropriate fittings and hoses

INTEX 28637EG C1000 Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 1000 GPH Pump Flow Rate

If your volume is 2,500 gallons (11,365 L) or more you may want to consider moving up to the sand filter/pump combination for the best filtration and water clarity.

Medium & Large Size Intex Pools

For pools: 2,800 gallons (11,365 L) to 14,300 gallons (65,009 L).

Similar to the smaller pools, one option for upgrading is to choose a larger Intex pump and perhaps a salt generator and sand filter. However, there are more options for pumps and filters as the volume of the pool increases as well.

For larger pools, it’s clear (pun intended) that you should consider an aftermarket pump and filtration system to make sure that you have the best experience with your pool and minimize the maintenance required to keep the water clean and clear.

Here are two recommendations for aftermarket vendors that work well with above-ground pools:

Hayward ProSeries

  • Well-known name and history in the pool equipment industry
  • Variable speed options are available for larger volume pools that will save owners money on their electricity bills.

Hayward W3S180T92S ProSeries 18 In., 1 HP Sand Filter System for Above-Ground Pools

Pentair

  • Good filter options but not as many pump options as Intex or Hayward.
  • Well-known name and history in the pool equipment industry.

How to Size a Pool Pump for an Intex Pool

You can choose one of the pumps above, or, if you like math, we’ve shown you how to calculate the size of pump you need for your Intex pool below.

1. Determine the Volume of Water in your Pool

If you know what Intex pool you have, you can find this information on their website. Otherwise, it should be included in the manual.

In case not then you can use these equations to calculate it based on the shape:

  • Circular Pools: Diameter (ft.) x Diameter (ft.) x Average Depth (ft.) x 5.9 = Volume (gallons)
  • Oval Pools: Length (ft.) x Width (ft.) x Average Depth (ft.) x 6.7 = Volume (gallons)
  • Rectangular Pools: Length (ft.) x Width (ft.) x Average Depth (ft.) x 7.5 = Volume (gallons)

2. Calculate the Required Flow Rate and Water Turnover.

The aim is that the pump is able to pump all the water through the filter 1-2 times in 8 hours. Here’s the formula to calculate that:

Flow Rate = Pool Volume ÷ Turnover Rate in Minutes

So if your pool is 5000 gallons and you want the water to turn over once in 8 hours then your Flow Rate is:

5000 gallons ÷ 480 minutes = minimum flow rate of 10 gallons per minute (GPM).

Now that you have the required flow rate of the pump (in GPM), you’ll need to find a pump with these specifications.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, there’s one more consideration.

3. Determine the Maximum Flow Rate

The size of your pool’s pipes determines the maximum flow rate of the water going through them, regardless of the size of your pump. Determine the size of each intake line (the pipe coming from the pool to the pump) and use the following constants in the calculation:

  • 1.5 inches has a maximum flow rate of 42 GPM.
  • 2 inches has a maximum flow rate of 73 GPM.

If you have pipes that diameters, use the smallest pipe to determine the maximum flow rate.

4. Determine the Maximum Filter Flow Rate

As mentioned earlier, filters have a minimum and maximum flow rate. The pool pump’s GPM rating should be below the pool filter’s maximum flow GPM rating so as to not over-pressure the pipes.

Make sure to choose a pump that has a flow rate within the filter’s minimum and maximum flow rate.

5. Choose Your Pump

Now you want to choose a pump that satisfies all of the criteria in the steps above.

Diagram showing what flow rate a pool pump should have. Shows the relationship between pipe size, filter size and pump size.
Diagram shows what pump flow rate you need in relation to pipe and filter size.

Common Pool Pump and Filter Features

Intex makes above-ground pools, so you’ll need an above-ground pool pump.

Above-ground pool filters and pumps are smaller than inground pool filters, but function the same and as mentioned they should be sized according to the volume of the pool.

One option to consider for above-ground Intex pools is to purchase a combined filter and pump configuration so that you know the filter is compatible with the pump.

Should You Go Cheap or Expensive?

Prices for above-ground pumps, suitable for Intex pools, are within about $100 of one another. Although filter prices vary much more, and depend on the filtration capacity and the type of filter.

For example, a DE filter will be more expensive but it does a much better job of filtration than a smaller cartridge system.

You should also consider your use and environment when you are making your decision. If your use is minimal then a smaller pump and filter may be sufficient. However, if you use your pool often it’s better to have more filtration and circulation to keep your water clean and clear for daily swimming.

When it comes to filters, usually it’s best to get the biggest filter you can, then size the pump to match.

Usually it’s best to get the biggest filter you can, then size the pump to match.

Remember, as with most other things, cheaper isn’t always better and it can cost you more in the long run.

You should avoid cheap plastic parts and flimsy hoses when shopping for a system. You should also think about whether or not you will need to move the pump and filter inside during the winter.

Related Reading:
What’s the Best Pool Filter? Sand vs. Cartridge vs. DE
The Easiest Way to Replace Sand in a Pool Filter
How to Deep Clean a Sand Filter (And Change Sand)
How to Drain the Water from a Sand Filter
What is a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Pool Filter?

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