This time of year, anyone with just a bit of land is suffering in the heat of summer and thinking about buying their very first above ground pool for themselves or the family.
When temperatures start to rise, the refreshingly cool waters of a home pool sound very tempting. With temperatures breaking records year after year, a family pool could be a great investment in your happiness and health for years to come.
There are several types of pools out there to choose from. In ground pools versus above ground pools would be the first decision to make.
- 1 In-Ground versus Above Ground Pools
- 2 The Benefits of Above Ground Pools
- 3 Safety & Accessory Considerations
- 4 Best Above Ground Pool Reviews
- 5 Intex 118-by-78-by-29-1/2-Inch Rectangular Frame Pool
- 6 Bestway 15-Foot by 48″ Steel Pro Round Frame Pool Set
- 7 Intex 16ft X 48in Ultra Frame Pool Set
- 8 Intex 24Ft X 12Ft X 52In Ultra Frame Pool Set
- 9 Proseries Frame Pool Set with Mosaic Print
- 10 Embassy Pool 4-2700 Above Ground Swimming Pool
- 11 Essential Above Ground Pool Accessories
In-Ground versus Above Ground Pools
In ground pools are permanent and can add value to your home, especially if you live in an area that is warm most of the year. A pool can also add visual pleasure to the landscape from inside the home, from the patio or deck, or even from the street depending on where you place it.
There are many drawbacks to in ground pools, however. The expense is the most obvious drawback, not to mention have construction crews on your property for weeks to complete the project.
After the pool is installed it requires yearly maintenance, raises your electric and water bill, and may require additional work to cover it for the winter depending on your area.
In ground pools can also be more dangerous for both children and adults, with many children drowning or suffering long lasting injuries from near-drowning accidents every year.
Many youth and adults also suffer injury from slip and fall accidents around the pool where water is standing, or by incorrectly using a diving board or slide attached to the pool.
In ground pools are easier for toddlers and pets to fall into because they are ground level.
Many states have premise liability laws, so if someone were to injure themselves or drown in your pool, even if you were not home or they were not invited, you could be liable for financial compensation for their injuries, both long term and short term.
The Benefits of Above Ground Pools
With all of the negatives to in ground pools, above ground pools have many benefits. Unlike in ground pools, above ground pools can be raised above ground level so that toddlers and pets cannot access them as easily.
They can be moved around the property or taken with you in the event of a move. You can set up an above ground pool yourself, so that you aren’t hiring construction crews to dig and build the pool.
Above ground pools also don’t require constant running water and electricity or as many chemicals throughout the year.
While above ground pools don’t necessarily add value to your home, you also aren’t stuck without a pool if you sell the property and move.
An above ground pool can be an inexpensive, easy option for anyone wanting the cool refreshment of a nice long soak or a place for the kids to play and entertain in warm weather.
Above ground pools arrive in a kit to your front door and can be installed by a team of professionals, if you choose, but may also be installed by the homeowner.
You can also build a deck around an above ground pool, making it a beautiful addition to the patio or yard.
Built in fencing and locking gates are additional options to enhance the security of your above ground pool and keep children and pets safe.
Most above ground pools come in two depth options, 48 inches or 52 inches deep, so they are not safe for diving, if that’s the main reason you are shopping for a pool.
Most above ground pools come in round or oval shapes and a variety of sizes. Some above ground pools are simply inflatable, but these usually come in only 30 inch deep options and smaller diameters.
Typically a higher end above ground pool will come with a metal frame.
There are many price options available to own an above ground pool. For only a few hundred dollars, you can invest in an inflatable or PVC sidewall pool in smaller sizes for children or for lounging.
For around one thousand dollars, you can invest in a larger, more durable pool, which can fit several large adults, allow room for floating or swimming, and last for many years more than an inflatable or PVC sidewall.
For four thousand dollars or more, you could enjoy a very durable, very large pool that may last your family for decades.
Safety & Accessory Considerations
Another thing to consider before investing in an above ground pool is the fencing requirements in your city or state.
Many localities require pool owners, whether in ground or above ground, to fence their pool properly. Because this is a legal requirement, check to see what you may need to be in compliance, as this can quickly take up a large part of the budget for your above ground pool.
Other things to consider when purchasing an above ground pool or reading above ground pool reviews would be which accessories and necessities are included with the pool.
In addition to potential fencing laws, depending on your yard, you may need several yards of sand to put underneath the ground cover or take time and finances to level the ground.
Be sure to remove any rocks or sticks, trim down the grass, till the dirt underneath, and level out the ground before laying the pool liner down in the correct spot.
Some hardy types of grass such as Bermuda and St. Augustine have been known to grow through the liner of above ground pools, so be sure to clear the area of any of these grasses before installing.
Most pool manufacturers do not cover grass issues through their warranty.
You may also need to purchase a sand filter, water pump, water hose to fill the pool, chemicals for hygiene, a ladder, ground cover, debris cover, deck, steps, and more.
We will cover these above ground cool accessories after reviewing some of the best above ground pools.
Best Above Ground Pool Reviews
Let’s take a look at the best above ground pools available on the market.
|Image||Name||Est. Setup Time||Rating||Price||Buy||Review|
|Intex 118-by-78-by-29-1/2-Inch Rectangular Frame Pool||< 1 day||4.7||$$$||Buy Here||Read Review|
|Bestway 15-Foot by 48″ Steel Pro Round Frame Pool Set||< 1 day||4||$$$||Buy Here||Read Review|
|Intex 16ft X 48in Ultra Frame Pool Set||< 1 day||4.6||$$$||Buy Here||Read Review|
|Intex 24Ft X 12Ft X 52In Ultra Frame Pool Set||< 1 day||4.8||$$$-$$$$||Buy Here||Read Review|
|Proseries Frame Pool Set with Mosaic Print||< 1 day||4.5||$$$-$$$$||Buy Here||Read Review|
|Embassy Pool 4-2700 Above Ground Swimming Pool||1-3 days (may require a professional)||5||$$$$||Buy Here||Read Review|
For a reasonable price, you can own the Intex Rectangular Frame Pool.
Because this above ground pool is only 9 feet in length, 6 feet in width, and 30 inches deep, set up is easy and the pool can be ready for water in less than thirty minutes.
While this pool is not the best for entertaining large groups or swimming recreationally, it is great for small children or simply lounging and getting a break from the heat.
The metal frame ensures stability and at only 50 pounds, it can be delivered and moved to the correct place in the yard easily.
- Small and very portable
- Perfect size for relaxing and floating
- Lightweight and easy set up
- Too small for swimming or parties
- Does not come with any accessories such as a pump or filter
This pool set comes in a wide variety of sizes. Without burning a hole in your wallet, you can order the 15 foot round pool with 48 inch depth.
The pool comes with a steel frame and filter pump with instruction manual, filter cartridge, heavy duty PVC repair patch kit, and DVD detailing set up and maintenance.
Similarly to the Intex above ground pool, the drain valve can be attached to a garden hose to redirect draining away from the house or yard.
Also included in the packaging are the pool cover, ground cloth, and a skimmer for cleaning.
This pool is 15 feet wide all the way around and 48 inches deep, so quite smaller than other above ground pools, but it may be the perfect size for small children or just a couple of adults.
The pool can be set up in an hour versus several days with the higher end, larger above ground pools. The quality of materials is about what you would expect in this price range: mostly PVC rails and polyester 3-ply walls complete the pool.
Bestway products are manufactured in China, with locations in Europe, South America, Australia, and the USA. The warranty offered covers manufacturing defects within a 90 day period.
- Easy set up
- Less obtrusive size
- Can be drained and taken down every season
- Materials not meant for decades of use
- Accessories included may need to be upgraded
- Too small for large parties or families
For less than a thousand dollars, you can own the Intex Ultra Frame Pool set, which has some of the best online above ground pool reviews!
This above ground pool is circular, 16 feet in diameter and 48 inches deep. It appears sturdier than many in that price range and also boasts easy, quick set up.
The reviews on this above ground pool state that the pool can be installed and filled with water in less than 45 minutes.
It does come with an instructional DVD which walks you through the installation process, requiring no professionals. It holds just over 5,000 gallons completely filled and ready for use.
The packaging includes the Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump, a ladder, a ground cloth, a debris cover, and the installation DVD.
Like many above ground pools, the sidewalls are made of PVC and the drain attaches to a garden hose so that you may drain water away from the house or yard.
Dual suction outlet fittings improve water circulation for better water clarity and cleanliness.
One safety feature that Intext includes on this pool not mentioned on other above ground pools is the ground fault circuit interrupter, which shuts off the pump if electrical current is exposed to water.
- Small, lightweight, large enough for floating or swimming
- Easy Set Up
- Ladder is not durable or strong enough for large adults
- Pump does not come with instructions
With two-day shipping, you can order the Intex Ultra Frame above ground pool from Amazon.
This above ground pool has some of the best above ground pool reviews on the market. It is the standard 52 inches deep, offers a rectangle shape which is great for swimming horizontally from end to end, and is 24 feet long by 12 feet wide, large enough for the entire family or a large group of friends.
The frame of this above ground pool is made out of steel, powder coated for rust resistance and visual appeal. You can set this pool up in an hour and it doesn’t require a professional installation team.
It holds 8,400 gallons of water at 90% capacity and includes a setup and maintenance DVD. The kit includes the Krystal clear filter pump and saltwater system, a ladder, a ground cloth, a debris cover, a maintenance kit, and a volleyball set!
The sidewalls are made out of PVC and it has a convenient drain plug that connects to a garden hose so that water can be drained away from the home or yard.
Intex does not have a long-term warranty, which could be considered a downside to owning an Intex above ground pool.
There is a 30 day return policy from the date of delivery if the following conditions are met: Merchandise must be received at the Intex warehouse within 30 days of delivery date, in its original packaging and resalable condition.
Intex does not pay return shipping costs, which could be very expensive on heavy products. For defective product, the return window goes down to 15 days from the date of receiving.
- Great, affordable price considering what you get
- Includes all accessories you need
- Easy set up and take down
- Large size, can accommodate multiple people at once
- Cheaper frame than some other above ground pools
The Proseries Frame Pool, has a dazzling mosaic print inside of the pool, making a wonderful visual addition to an otherwise bland landscape filler.
The pool is circular with a 24 foot diameter and 52 inch depth, great for both children and adults, large and small parties.
It holds 12,600 gallons on water and has a rust resistant galvanized steel frame. At 250 pounds shipping weight, you may need additional assistance getting the box to the backyard for set up.
Constructed of heavy grade PVC reinforced with polyester mesh, this above ground pool is up to 80% stronger than similar items and built to withstand heavy use for many years.
It also features an upgraded filtration system, the SkimmerPlus – a surface skimmer that keeps this pool free from leaves, bugs, and small debris. The package also includes a pump, cover, and step ladder with a safety guard.
ProSeries Pools Warranty is the longest of any mentioned manufacturer, insuring the pool for 15 years.
In order for the warranty claim to be approved for manufacturer defects, you must follow a list of conditions such as installing per the instructions, provide the original sales receipt and 6 pictures from different angles of the defective components, pay for return shipping of the defective component, prove the defect was not caused by improper use or neglect, and have made no modifications to the structure, wall, or liner of the pool.
ProSeries does not cover damage caused to the material during installation or dismantling, water leakage, chemical products or heating systems, ice, fire, animals, vegetation, or acts of God, damage resulting past normal life expectancy, caused by the utilization of salt water chlorination systems, or any altered components.
While ProSeries offers the longest warranty, there are certainly plenty of exclusions to the coverage.
- Best quality materials for the price
- Large enough for swimming and entertaining
- Upgraded skimmer system
- May need additional sand filer and pump
At the higher end of the price range for an above ground pool you can upgrade to the Embassy Pool 4-2700.
Quality shows at this price range, with a baked enamel steel frame and 9 inch wrap-around top and vertical rails in a beautiful creamy tan color.
The walls are hot-dipped galvanized copper bearing steel and are corrugated for flexibility and strength.
If ordering from Amazon.com, the package will be greater than 1,000 pounds, and may simply be dropped off as quickly as possible by a courier, which means you may have to find a way to move it to the desired location.
This above ground pool is also 52 inches deep, however, it is a much larger oval shape which is 27 feet long and 16 feet wide.
The package includes walls, liner, skimmer, sand filter, 1HP PR omega pump, and the Deluxe 52” Platform Ladder.
Some of the above ground pool reviews mention needing help with installation on many pools, however, this above ground pool may be installed by you and another adult with a little bit of effort.
Embassy Pool products are made in the USA which can be great for consumers looking for affordable, high grade materials.
- Large size for swimming, entertaining, or lounging
- High quality materials for long lasting fun
- Easy installation
- Includes most accessories you will need
- Heavy shipping weight, you may need heavy equipment or assistance getting the package to the right area in your yard
Essential Above Ground Pool Accessories
As you may have noticed, many of the above ground pool reviews we have covered mention needing to upgrade or replace included accessories, if they are included at all.
Other accessories that are never included with an above ground pool would be vacuums, heaters, and lights.
An essential component for any above ground pool is a method of entering the pool! With some above ground pools reaching 55” high, even grown adults won’t be able to enter the pool without a ladder or step system.
Many pools include a ladder with the pool set, but these ladders may be made of cheap materials and bend of break easily, leading to injury.
Pool ladders are an easy option for most swimmers, though small children, elderly adults, or the disabled may have an easier time with a pool step system.
Ensure the ladder or step system you purchase is made out of durable material, can hold the weight of a large adult, and has nonskid surface material to protect against slips or falls.
Pool covers are a very essential component for the safety and durability of your above ground pool. Most sets will include a cover, though they may be made out of inexpensive materials.
Another thing to consider on a pool cover is the color. If you live in an area with cooler temperatures, a black pool cover and raise the temperature of the water quickly.
If you live in an area already very warm, you may want a light colored pool cover so that the water does not get too warm.
Above ground pool lights are a great accessory to have in your pool. You may find floating lights, magnetic wall lights, or an installed underwater pool light can all suit different needs.
Floating lights provide inexpensive lighting for both safety as well as entertainment. These are usually solar powered which can be much safer in a wet environment such as a pool.
Magnetic lights are another option for above ground pool lighting. These lights are usually made with LED bulbs with two magnetic pieces connecting together, one on the outside of the pool wall and one on the inside.
These produce light equal to a 50 watt halogen light bulb.
Even more fun, there are plenty of options for floating light shows, pool fountains with lights, and even floating Bluetooth water resistant speakers that connect to a lightshow for use in the pool at night.
Above ground pool skimmers are similar in function to a gutter in a large in ground swimming pool: they help clean the water by skimming the surface and capturing floating debris such as leaves, flower petals, sticks, insects, and residue from sunblock or insect repellant before the oils sink to the pool’s bottom.
Due to the thin walls of most above ground pools, floating pool skimmers are most often used, though skimmers that attach to the pool’s edge may also be found.
Skimmer baskets may need daily cleaning to ensure proper functionality and longevity.
Pool Salt Water Chlorinator
Using chemicals in your pool can be costly: the average pool owner can spend a few hundred dollars per year on costly chemicals to maintain hygienic and clear water.
Salt chlorine generators can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, however, pool owners with these systems spend a lot less per year on cleaning chemicals.
If you’re planning on your above ground pool being a long term investment, it could behoove you to invest in a salt water chlorinator as well.
Salt water pools also make for a very low maintenance ownership. The system products natural chlorine which consistently feeds the water the required amount of chlorine for natural clarity and cleanliness.
For pool owners that travel frequently or do not want to spend the time or physical energy to maintain chemical balance, salt water chlorinators can be a great addition.
If you live in a warm environment and your pool receives full sun or has a black pool cover, the water temperature may rise to an uncomfortable weather or burn swimmers.
Pool thermometers are an inexpensive safety upgrade to any pool. Pool thermometers are great not just for safety reasons, but comfort reasons.
Knowing what temperature the water is before getting in (and having your system shocked by freezing temperatures?) makes the experience so much more enjoyable for all swimmers.
Digital pool thermometers sell for around very cheap and can be placed in a skimmer basket. Point and shoot laser infrared thermometers are selling cheap too, but you simply aim the device at the water, hit the trigger, and get the temperature right in your hand.
Floating thermometers may float to the center of the pool, where you cannot read them before entering the water.
One of the handiest pool thermometer options is the Swimming Pool SPA Floating Thermometer. A two piece system, the thermometer itself is placed in the water and the display can be placed in the home so that parents know the temperature of the pool before allowing children or pets to enter the water.
The Swimming Pool SPA Floating Thermometer also has convenient frost warning features if the temperature drops below 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pool pump is the heart of the swimming pool’s circulation system, and is an absolute must for any pool owner.
The pool pump pulls water through the skimmer system, pushing it through the filter and returning to the pool.
Without this part, the pool cleaning system would be non-functional, therefore, proper cleaning and maintenance schedules are mandatory.
Pool pumps vary in price and go go up to a few hundred of dollars for above ground pool systems, with two key elements determining what pool pump is necessary for your system: Flow rate and head.
Flow rate refers to how much water can be moved in an amount of time and is measured by gallons per minute (GPM).
Head refers to the amount of resistance to flow that exists in your current plumbing system and is measured by feet of resistance or feet of head.
Once you have calculated these two measurements, you are ready to choose a pool pump.
Pool Heaters are not necessary, but are a nice edition to pools in cooler climates and extend the swimming season. All pool owners want to extend the swimming season when temperatures start to drop and the thought of being stuck inside creeps in!
In some climates, the swimming season may only last a couple of months naturally. By adding a pool heater, you can enjoy your new above ground pool for much longer each year.
There are many different ways to heat your pool. Solar covers are easy and cost effective—they heat up during the day and retain warmth throughout the night.
Gas heaters are the best way to quickly raise temperatures in your pool, though they may not be safe depending on the type of material used for your above ground pool.
Solar heaters are a similar product, just using solar energy instead of gas fuel. Heat pumps work by gathering warm air and using it to heat the water.
Finally, solar heaters specifically designed for above ground pools are the safest option for many types of materials, are low cost and energy efficient.
There are many different types of pool vacuums for use in an above ground pool. While a debris cover will keep out damage when in place, a pool vacuum with take care of any debris blown in while coverless that has settled at the bottom of the pool.
Above ground pool vacuums also keep your pool from growing algae on the pool walls and floor. Cloudy pool water is a sure sign that a vacuum is needed.
Pool vacuums can cost anywhere from a hundred to couple of thousand dollars depending on the features, size of your pool, and frequency of needed use.
Manual pool vacuums consist of a vacuum head, hose, and pole. The pole allows you to hold on to the vacuum and use it in the way you would a vacuum in your home, using only when needed.
This of course is the most inexpensive option in the world of pool vacuums.
Automatic pool vacuums can save time (and sore shoulder muscles) by cleaning the pool solely on their own with no manual labor needed.
In this family, there are pressure-side automatic pool vacuums, powered by water pressure and skimming the surface debris into a separate bag (great for large debris but not for dirt or sand), suction-side pool vacuums, which connect to an existing pump and filter system, or robotic pool vacuums, which are the most expensive but great for both large and small debris and run with no human interaction needed.
As you can see, becoming a proud pool owner requires much research and thoughtful decision making before you can take the leap.
The quality, size, and features of above ground pools vary drastically, as does price. You must also consider into the budget fencing, warning signage, decks, ladders, steps, covers, landscaping, filtration and cleaning systems, and many more accessories.
We hope these above ground pool reviews have helped teach you some of the basics and assist in your decision to buy your next above ground pool.