Above-ground pools can use corrugated plastic hoses or PVC plumbing. However, it’s important to have a pump that’s not overpowered. High-HP pool pumps often increase the GPM (gallons per minute), which can cause plumbing problems in above-ground pools. There are countless above-ground pumps, so let’s find the best ones for your pool.
The best pool pump for an above-ground pool is the Hayward Powerflo Matrix. This 1.5HP pump comes with threaded pipes for universal plumbing adapters. It also has an extra-large basket to prevent debris clogs and preserve the impeller. You can choose the wired version or one with a 115V plug.
You might also prefer these above-ground pool pumps:
- Intex pool owners should try the Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter
- For a budget-friendly option, get the Harris ProForce Pump
- The top filter-pump combo is the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Pump
- If you have a large pool, install the VivoHome 2HP Pump
- For energy savings, opt for the Black + Decker VS Pump
- To reduce your pump’s noise, get the XtremePowerUS 2HP Pump
Throughout this post, I’ll explain what you should look for when getting a new above-ground pool pump. I’ll also provide detailed descriptions of each of the pumps on our list.
What to Look for in an Above-Ground Pool Pump
It’s important to get all of the information you need about your pump before upgrading your above-ground pool. Every pump has unique plumbing, dimensions, power, wiring, etc. If you get the wrong pump, you might not be able to attach it to the equipment pad. Furthermore, getting a pump that’s too powerful or not powerful enough will cause adverse effects.
Here’s a list of the three most important factors of an above-ground pool pump:
- Horsepower: Every pool pump has a horsepower rating that determines its power. Getting an above-ground pump with too little horsepower won’t move enough water through the pipes. On the other hand, having too much horsepower will disconnect the lines and cause impeller cavitation.
- Plumbing Type: Above-ground pool pumps can use PVC pipes or corrugated plastic hoses. There are pros and cons to both plumbing types, so it’s important to know which one is right for your swimming pool. Keep in mind that most above-ground pools can only use one of the options, so your pump choices might be limited.
- Wiring Style: Above-ground pumps are offered with plugs or wires. The wires attach to an external power source, such as a timer with a circuit breaker. The plugs go into a nearby 120V or 240V outlet. Make sure you inspect the wiring style before choosing your favorite above-ground pool pump on the list.
Once you have these three characteristics picked out, it’s time to choose your pool pump. For more information about each attribute, read on.
Almost all above-ground pools need a horsepower between 0.5 to 2. Anything over this limit is often too much for the plumbing. If you have a lot of water features, I recommend going up about 0.5 to 1 horsepower over the regular recommendations. Variable-speed pumps are the best for energy-saving, low-noise output, and speed control.
Keep these three tips in mind when deciding how much horsepower your above-ground pool pump needs:
- Check the company’s rating for their pool pump. Most above-ground pump manufacturers will provide suggestions that indicate what size pool their pump should be used with. Sticking within their parameters will help you get the right pump. The horsepower and plumbing size determine the gallons per minute, which is the water turnover.
- VS pumps almost always have a higher horsepower rating because you can lower the speed. The listed horsepower shows how much energy the pump produces at the highest setting. However, almost every VS pump lets you run the pump from a light trickle to a heavy, pressurized cycle.
- A general rule of thumb for above-ground pool pumps is one horsepower per 10,000 gallons. For example, if you have a 15,000-gallon pool, you could get a 1.5HP pump. However, if that pool has water slides and vacuums, you could go for a 2HP or 2.5HP pool pump. VS pumps let you gauge how much pressure the pool uses.
If your pool pump is having problems, it could be due to the incorrect plumbing type. For example, using too many adapters or opting for a plastic hose pump with PVC plumbing can restrict the water flow. I suggest using as few adapters as possible. Never switch from corrugated plastic hoses to PVC pipes if your plumbing isn’t made for it.
Here’s a list of pros and cons of corrugated plastic hoses and PVC pipes on above-ground pool pumps:
- Corrugated plastic hoses are much more flexible than PVC pipes. Intex and Bestway pools often come with corrugated plastic fittings. They can go up, down, sideways, and many other directions without using elbows. The flexibility lets these hoses move with the water.
- Corrugated plastic hoses are quite fragile. Direct sunlight, chemicals, and natural wear and tear make these hoses only last a few years. Thankfully, they’re much cheaper than any other type of pool plumbing. I recommend keeping a few extra hoses in your garage or shed in case you need to replace one of them quickly.
- PVC pipes are reliable and long-lasting. I’ve installed thousands of pumps, filters, heaters, and other pool equipment with PVC pipes. None of them leak, break, or corrode when maintained properly. PVC beats copper and corrugated plastic every day of the weak. It also prevents pressure differences from warping the plumbing.
- PVC pipes are more expensive and bulky than corrugated plastic hoses. You need much more space on your pool’s equipment pad. PVC pipes don’t move if they’re installed correctly. Their bulky design takes up more space. Additionally, these durable pipes cost more than corrugated hoses (especially when you include the glue and saw costs).
There are multiple pump styles, including single-speed, two-speed, and variable-speed options. Single-speed pumps come in plug and wired variants. However, almost all two-speed and variable-speed pumps only come in wired variants. Variable-speed pumps wire into the circuit breaker, helping these pumps save energy.
So, how do you know which wiring style you need?
- Is there an outlet near your pool’s equipment pad? If you have a power outlet by the pool equipment, you can choose either option. I suggest never using an extension cord with a pool pump because most companies recommend against it. Furthermore, extension cords increase the chances of a disconnect.
- Do you have a circuit breaker powering everything next to the pad? If so, you can wire the pump directly into a breaker. You can also install a GFCI outlet to plug the pump into it. I always recommend people get mini breaker boxes near their pool equipment pad for pumps, heaters, salt generators, and salt systems.
- Do you prefer internal or external timers? Almost every plug-in above-ground pool pump has an internal timer. On the other hand, wired pool pumps often require external timers. You can get a two-speed or variable-speed pump with a built-in timer and speed schedule. These timers are the best on the market.
- How long do you want your pool pump? If you want your pump for many years to come, I suggest getting a wired model. These models use conduit to protect and preserve the wires. They’re much less likely to get wet from the rain, too. You can switch the wires whenever you want, though it’s not required too often.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Hayward Powerflo Matrix
- Best for Intex Above Ground Pools: Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter
- Best for the Money: Harris ProForce 1.5HP Pump
- Best Filter-Pump Combo: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
- Best for Large Above-Ground Pools: VivoHome 2HP Above-Ground Pump
- Best Variable-Speed Model: Black + Decker 1HP VS Pump
- Best Low-Noise Pump: XtremePowerUS 2HP Pump
Best Overall: Hayward Powerflo Matrix
Hayward offers numerous high-end pumps for above-ground pools, including the Hayward Powerflo Matrix. This timeless classic works for any above-ground pool with PVC plumbing. It’s a 1.5HP powerhouse that offers reliable flow, excellent GPM (gallons per minute), and long-term dependability. It even includes a metal base to permanently mount the motor.
The Powerflo Matrix has threaded inlets and outlets. You can use 2” plumbing or 1.5” plumbing. There’s no need for adapters since your new pump fits any above-ground PVC size. Not using adapters means the Matrix provides consistent water flow, even when it’s supplying water to multiple outlets and water features.
The large debris basket is another excellent feature of the Powerflo Matrix. It can catch all large debris entering the pump without damaging the impeller. This debris basket lets you empty and clean the filter less often. Dump the basket once per week, and almost all of your equipment will last significantly longer.
Bottom Line: The Hayward Powerflo Matrix is an above-ground pool staple. It continues to offer high-quality features and simplicity that any pool owner can get behind. It’s weatherproof and designed for earthquakes and shifting soil. With a budget-friendly price, it’s hard to find anything better in the single-speed pump market.
- These pumps are tried and true and provide long-term reliability.
- You can use threaded PVC for 1.5” and 2” plumbing on any above-ground pool.
- The large debris basket limits how often you have to empty it and clean the filter.
- This pump includes a mounting bracket to prevent shifting and earthquake damage.
- There’s a front-mounted drain that can be disconnected with a flathead or a wrench.
- You can’t use this pool pump if your pool has corrugated plastic hoses.
- It’s too powerful for swimming pools below 10,000 gallons.
Best for Intex Above Ground Pools: Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter
Intex pools are some of the most popular above-ground , low-cost pools. The Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter is my favorite Intex pool pump. This pump offers an impressive 1,000 gallons per minute, which is much higher than some of the best pumps available. It uses flexible corrugated plastic hoses to prevent the pressure from harming the plumbing.
One of my favorite features of this pump is that it has a built-in filter. The compact design includes a cartridge that removes all sorts of debris from the water. If you have a small swimming pool, you can use this pump-filter combo without taking up too much space. Simply twist the air relief valve and disconnect the ring to remove and replace the cartridge.
Another reason I love this above-ground Intex pump is the plumbing orientation. Both pipes are right next to each other. Face the pump toward the pool and there’s no need for awkward angles, leaks, and other inconveniences. You can use this handy pump-filter combo on any Intex pool at or below 6,000 gallons for many years to come.
Bottom Line: The Intex Krystal Clear series is a top-notch choice for people with small above-ground swimming pools. Being able to reduce its footprint and clean the water daily makes this pump an efficient money-saver and space-saver. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this choice if your pool uses plastic tubing.
|Plumbing Type||Corrugated plastic|
- The compact design reduces the space required on the equipment pad.
- You don’t need to get a filter since this pump includes a cartridge.
- It’s extremely quiet compared to almost any above-ground pump on the market.
- You can choose between 330 GPM to 3,500 GPM, depending on your pool’s size.
- This pump-filter combo works with any Intex pool and most corrugated plastic plumbing from other companies.
- You have to replace the cartridge one to two times per month.
- This pump needs to run much longer than other pumps if you have an algae bloom.
Best for the Money: Harris ProForce 1.5HP Pump
Are you worried about spending an arm and a leg on an above-ground pool pump? Try the Harris ProForce 1.5HP Pump. This low-cost pump provides 1.5 horsepower without making too much noise. It also has 1.5” and 2” threaded plumbing, which means you can use it with any PVC plumbing in a residential area. Twist on the designed threaded piece and glue it into the plumbing.
Another reason you’ll like this above-ground pump is that it has a mounted base. Use cement screws to prevent this pump from moving around from vibrations, earthquakes, and accidental bumps. The stainless steel components found throughout this pump make it one of the toughest pool pumps you’ll come across.
Unlike the vast majority of pool pumps, the Harris ProForce can use PVC or plastic corrugated hoses. I almost always recommend against using adapters to switch from one to the other, but this is the one exception. This pump provides a wide pressure area that prevents it from ripping the plastic hoses off of the threaded PVC inlet and outlet.
Bottom Line: The Harris ProForce 1.5HP Pump proves you don’t need to spend too much to get a decent above-ground pool pump. It provides more than enough power for most above-ground pools and can be used with virtually any type of plumbing. It’s ready to go out of the box, so all you have to do is plug it into the plumbing and a nearby outlet.
|Plumbing Type||PVC or corrugated plastic|
- It’s much cheaper than the average 1.5HP above-ground pool pump.
- You can use this pool pump with 1.5” and 2” PVC, as well as corrugated plastic hoses.
- The large debris basket prevents your pump and filter from clogging.
- It includes the unions for 1.5” and 2.5” PVC plumbing.
- You can plug it into a 115V outlet without wiring it into a breaker.
- This pump is a bit louder than most above-ground pool pumps.
- It’s a bit heavier than others because it uses a lot of steel.
Best Filter-Pump Combo: Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
The best filter-pump combo has to be the Intex Krysta Clear Sand Filter Pump. This combo uses the efficient, low-cost sand media to remove fine particles from the swimming pool. It also includes a reliable Intex pump with a 0.6HP motor, fittings, hose connections, hoses, and more. This design also comes with a base to support the sand filter.
This sand filter-pump combo comes with a built-in 24-hour timer. You can schedule to run at any time of the day (I suggest using it during the hottest hours during the summer and the coldest hours during the winter). It also has a 25-foot cable to let you connect it to nearby wall outlets without using an extension cord.
Bottom Line: The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump is the top filter-pump combo in above-ground pools. Most combos aren’t efficient or eventually require upgrades, but you won’t run into that issue with this top-notch product. Everything from the multiport valve to the sturdy base and motor is designed to last for several years.
|Plumbing Type||Corrugated plastic|
- This filter-pump combo works with pools up to 10,000 gallons.
- The extra-long cable prevents the need for an extension cable.
- It includes a multiport valve for rinsing, backwashing, and more.
- There’s a built-in timer for scheduled circulation whenever you want it.
- The ultra-clear lid includes an air relief valve to get bubbles out of the pump and filter.
- All of the fittings are plastic, which means they only last a few years before requiring replacements.
- This kit can’t be used with any PVC pipes or copper plumbing.
Best for Large Above-Ground Pools: VivoHome 2HP Above-Ground Pump
If you have a large above-ground pool, try the VivoHome Above-Ground Pool Pump. This pump’s 2HP motor is more than enough for pools up to 20,000 gallons, which is as big as most above-ground pools get. The powerful motor isn’t too loud, which may come as a surprise considering the higher horsepower rating.
This large pool pump includes a grounding wire for safety reasons and a chemical-proof coating. It also has a big straining basket to remove fine debris from the pool. You won’t have to clean or backwash your filter nearly as much. This pump includes 1.5” unions for your PVC plumbing. They twist off for easy maintenance whenever you need to remove the pump, motor, etc.
Bottom Line: The VivoHome 2HP Above-Ground Pump is durable, reliable, and powerful. It’s not as well-known as some of the pumps on this list (Hayward, Intex, etc.), but it’s more than worth a chance. If you have a large above-ground pool that needs more power, I highly recommend looking into this pool pump.
|Voltage||110V or 220V|
- It’s not too noisy for such a large pool pump.
- This is one of the biggest motors for above-ground pool pumps.
- The pump includes 1.5” unions for a quick and easy installation.
- The clear lid tells you when the large debris basket needs to be emptied.
- There’s a drain plug that helps you drain the pump in a few minutes.
- This pump doesn’t come from a well-known company in the pool industry.
- You can’t use this pool pump with storable swimming pools.
Best Variable-Speed Model: Black + Decker 1HP VS Pump
Variable-speed pumps offer excellent money savings, but it’s hard to find a good one for above-ground swimming pools. Luckily, the Black + Decker VS Pump is the best variable-speed option you’ll find. This pump offers speeds between 450 to 3,450 RPMs, helping you customize your swimming pool’s pressure around the clock.
These unique VS pumps include built-in timers and schedules. You can tell it to run at a specific speed from one hour to the next, then have it ramp up or slow down for the remainder of the schedule. There’s also a manual mode for cleaning, additional circulation, stirring chemicals, pool parties, and more.
Another feature you’ll love is that this pump includes adapters and unions for 1.5” and 2” plumbing. You’ll have no problem installing it into your equipment pad (as long as it uses PVC pipes). It also has a durable base to mount it to cement or a pre-installed pool equipment pad.
Bottom Line: Variable-speed pumps are almost always the best choice for any pool owner. This pump helps you get the best of both worlds for your above-ground swimming pool. You can reduce the pump’s noise outlet without lowering its power too much. Furthermore, you’ll save enough money to pay off the pump in a couple of years.
- This pump comes with an internal timer and speed schedule.
- You can override the timer with a manual circulation mode.
- The ultra-quiet motor keeps the sound down, even at the highest settings.
- It includes unions for 1.5” and 2” plumbing.
- There are multiple drains on this pump for ultra-fast draining during maintenance.
- VS pumps almost always cost more than single-speed pumps.
- Most of the components are made out of plastic.
- It only goes up to 1HP, which isn’t as powerful as in-ground VS pumps.
Best Low-Noise Pump: XtremePowerUS 2HP Pump
The XtremePowerUS 2HP Pump is an ultra-powerful pump that uses an air-cooled motor to reduce its noise output. Unlike most other single-speed pumps, this one isn’t audible from inside your home, garage, or shed. It’s also big enough for the largest above-ground swimming pools, even if they have vacuums and water features.
This pump saves you money by reducing its energy consumption and providing unions. These two-inch unions connect to your plumbing, letting you prevent leaks and make future repairs if necessary. Furthermore, the unions can be removed in favor of threaded piping if you have smaller PVC plumbing in the equipment pad.
Bottom Line: While it’s not the most popular brand, XtremePowerUS has been making a name for itself in the pool industry. This powerful above-ground pool pump is rather quiet, even compared to some of the best brands and pumps on the market. Everything from the air-cooled motor to the wide pump basket lowers its sound output.
- The motor is very quiet compared to other 2HP single-speed pool pumps.
- You’ll receive unions when you purchase this pool pump.
- It’s powerful enough to fit almost any large above-ground swimming pool.
- It’s a dual-speed pump that comes with a high and a low setting.
- This pump is designed to withstand UV rays, chemical spills, and leaks.
- The unions are a bit bulkier than most pool pump unions (and they don’t match the pump).
- You can only use this pump with 230V electrical setups.
- This pump is significantly heavier than most above-ground pool pumps.