Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Should You Purchase a DE Filter or a Cartridge Filter?

When choosing between a diatomaceous earth, otherwise known as a DE filter, or a cartridge filter, both DE and cartridge filters do an adequate job of keeping pool water clean, but they have distinct benefits and each work optimally under different pool conditions.

Let’s compare and contrast the two as we review some of the most frequently asked questions regarding a new filter purchase:

What Type of Filter Will Work Best for my Pool Size? 
Cartridge filters work better on pools that are 12,000 gallons or less. DE filters, on the other hand, can more than adequately clean a small pool and can also tackle the demands of cleaning larger pools – even the largest ones that can be found at a resort or hotel.

Which Type of Filter Removes Dirt Particles Better? 
Diatomaceous earth is mined and is the fossilized exoskeletons of tiny diatoms. The DE is used to coat “grids” in the filter housing and act as tiny sieves to removed debris. Using this filtering system, DE filters can eliminate dirt particles as small as 1 micron -- including dust, pollen and other allergens. Cartridge filters remove particles of 20 microns and larger. For the most part, the difference will not be noticeable – because anything less than 35 microns is not visible to the human eye.

Which Filter is Cheaper to Own and Operate? 
The initial cost to purchase a cartridge filter is lower than a DE filter, but it may be necessary to replace the cartridge every year or two. Depending on the model and size of your filter, cartridges will cost anywhere from $40 and up to replace. DE filters cost more initially, but the main thing you will have to replace is the diatomaceous earth. DE costs less than $1 a pound and most DE filters require 2 to 4 pounds per cleaning.

How Will My Filter Choice Affect My Pump?
Cartridge filters are designed to run at lower pressure than DE filters. This puts less back-pressure on the pump which enables you to get more flow and turnover for an equivalent pump size. A DE filter will run at higher pressures, leading to some inefficiency and flow loss.

DE Filter Cleaning 
To know when a DE filter needs to be cleaned, you must monitor the filter pressure gauge. When the gauge exceeds a predefined limit, the filter must be cleaned. The DE filter is cleaned by backwashing about 400 – 1000 gallons of pool water and dumping the white, sandy, dirty water. Then, new DE powder needs to be dumped into the skimmer to recoat the filter. DE is dangerous to breathe and handling can cause your hands to get dried out and cracked. Therefore, a dust mask and gloves should be worn. During the filter cleaning process, you will also need to refill your pool to replenish the gallons of water you lost during backwashing. The chemical levels must also be tested and more chemicals added to replace those lost in the backwash.

Cartridge Filter Cleaning 
The maintenance for cartridge filters is much easier than with DE. Cleaning a cartridge filter simply involves removing the cartridge and hosing it off with a garden house.

What Else Should I Know About My Filter and Pool? 
Your pool builder should teach you how to operate your new pool system – including filter cleaning, pump operation, etc. It is also important that you learn how to balance the chemicals of your pool. This will be imperative to maintaining a healthy and trouble-free swim season. For those wishing to extend the swim season, consider adding a solar pool heater. A solar pool heater can be installed when your pool is being built or even years later. To have a solar pool heater installed, contact a professional solar company, not your pool builder. Doing so will not only save you $500 -$1000 on the installation, but also -- buying direct, you’ll be assured to get a quality product, installed by a certified installer.

Central Florida Solar is owned and operated by Bill Park. As one of Central Florida's solar industry's true veterans, Bill has over 28 years of experience in solar energy systems design and installation. He has completed the Florida Solar Energy Center's photovoltaic system design program and he holds State of Florida solar contractor license #CVC 056645. Central Florida Solar sells, installs and services solar energy systems for water heating, pool heating and solar electric power serving greater Orlando including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Volusia, and Sumter Counties - including The Villages. For more information, or to get a free solar quote, contact Central Florida Solar at 407-76SOLAR (407-767-6527) or visit their website at http://cflsolar.com.

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