Pentair 420 vs. 520, which is the best cartridge pool filter and why? If you are looking to buy a Pentair cartridge but are torn between the Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus and Pentair 160332 Clean & Clear Plus, you are at the right place. We have compared the two based on the crucial factors considered when buying cartridge filters.
There is no doubt cartridge filters are the best as they can filter small particles, perform well at lower speeds, are energy efficient, and use less water as no backwashing is required. Pentair is one of the best cartridge filter brands, with the Pentair 420 and Pentair 520 as the best-selling models. While the two share a lot in terms of features, there is a difference.
The main difference between the Pentair 420 and Pentair 520 is the filter cartridge size, pressure, and maintenance. The Pentair 160301 Clean & Clear Plus (420) has a 420 sq ft filter cartridge, higher pressure, and requires slightly more frequent maintenance than the 520. On the other hand, the Pentair 160332 Clean & Clear Plus (520) has a larger 520sq ft filter cartridge, slightly lower pressure, and longer runtime between filter cleanings.
For more regarding how the two cartridge filters compare, read along.
Pentair 520 Pros
- Robust build quality for durability
- NSF/ANSI 50 certified
- Operates at lower pressure bolstering efficiency
- 4-cartridge system
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
Pentair 520 Cons
- A larger footprint and is heavier than the 420
Pentair 420 vs. 520 Face-to-Face Comparison Review
Now, to the day’s main business, how does Pentair 420 compare to Pentair 520? We will compare them based on the important factors considered when buying cartridge filters to ensure you make the perfect purchase decision.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Design, Dimensions, and Weight
The Pentair 520 is not different from the Pentair 420 as it also comes with an elongated cylindrical design and has also been finished in a beige variant. However, it now has a larger footprint as it is a bigger filter than the 420.
The dimensions are 22 x 22.5 x 50 inches while the weight is 83 pounds.
As far as design, dimensions, and weight are concerned, there is no winner. Yes, the 520 has a bigger footprint and is heavier, but having a larger filter cancels the difference. So, the round ends in a draw.
2. Build Quality
The Pentair 520 is similar to the Pentair 420 in terms of build quality.
It also comes with a polypropylene injection molded tank reinforced with fiberglass. It is resistant to corrosion and can withstand harsh weather or environmental conditions.
Like the 420, the 520 is also an NSF/ANSI 50-certified pool filter.
There is no winner in this second round of this Pentair 420 vs. 520 comparison review, as both pool filters come with a polypropylene injection molded tank reinforced with fiberglass and are NSF/ANSI 50-certified.
3. Main Components
The Pentair 520 is exactly the same as the 420 in terms of components. It also features a sturdy tank design courtesy of Pentair’s informed choice of materials; fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene.
A clamp ring also securely tightens the lid to the base and allows easy cartridge access during maintenance. Like the 420, there’s also 2-inch and 1-inch plumbing for steady water flow and easy drainage, respectively.
Here again, there is no winner, as both pool filters come with the same components, despite their size and weight differences.
Even though the Pentair 520 is larger than the 420, the installation procedure is exactly the same. There are also plenty of resources to help you install the system.
Like the Pentair 420, the Pentair 520 should also be installed on a level concrete slab and all precautions adhered to.
As far as installation is concerned, there is no winner between the two Pentair cartridge filters. The installation of both models is the same and requires the same technical skills. If you are not the handy guy, get professional help.
The Pentair 520’s usability is not different from the Pentair 420’s. You should also fill the hair and lint pot with water and open the high-flow manual air relief valve until it snaps into the full open position. The next step is starting the pump to fill the tank before closing the high-flow air relief valve.
Now that the filter cycle has started, note down the initial pressure and keep monitoring the pressure until the pressure is higher than the original pressure by 8 to 10 PSI. This will be time to clean the filter.
In terms of usability, the Pentair 420 and Pentair 520 are similar. The operation procedure is exactly the same, so this round ends in a draw.
6. Filter Type
The Pentair 520 is similar to the 420 as it is also a cartridge pool filter and can filter debris as small as 20 microns. The 520 also comes with 4 polyester filters maximizing the filtration area.
They are washable Clean & Clear Plus filters, meaning the maintenance costs are lower, and importantly, no backwashing is required.
There is no winner here, as both models are cartridge pool filters that filter down to 20 microns. The 420 and 520 also have a 4-cartridge design to maximize the filtration area. The filters are also washable and don’t require backwashing.
7. Filter Size and Performance
On the other hand, the Pentair 160332 Clean & Clear Plus maintains the same 4-cartridge design, but it has a larger filtration area, 520 square feet. This is why it is marketed as Pentair 520. Now that it has a 520 sq ft filter, the Pentair 520 is suited for pools ranging between 40,000 and 45,000 gallons.
As for the flow rate, the 520 is similar to the 420 as it can move 150 gallons per minute. As for pressure, we found a small difference. While the 420 starting pressure was 14 PSI, the 520’s starting pressure was slightly lower, at 12 PSI.
Regarding filter size and performance, it’s hard to call a winner. Both models have a large filtration area though the Pentair 160332 Clean & Clear Plus has a larger one. But that doesn’t mean the Pentair 160301 is less effective. It all comes down to the size of your pool. The Pentair 420 suits smaller pools, while the 520 suits larger pools.
Like the Pentair 420, you will also have to carry out periodic maintenance with the Pentair 520. However, unlike the 420, the 520 offers longer operation before maintenance is required, as it has a larger filter size. On average, you will need to wash the filters after 6-7 months or so.
The filters should be removed and rinsed with a hose pipe.
But when it comes to replacement, the Pentair 520’s filters have the same lifetime as the 420’s. Replace them after 2,000 hours of operation, around 2 years on average, preferably with genuine Pentair Clean and Clear Plus 520 replacement filter cartridges.
Here, it’s hard to call a winner as both cartridge pool filters require periodic maintenance and cartridge replacement after around 2 years. However, the 520 has a slight edge over the 420 as you might go with the filter for a month longer before it requires washing. But this is a negligible difference.
9. What’s in the Box?
On the other hand, the Pentair 160332 Clean & Clear Plus comes with the following:
- Filter Tank
- 520sq ft Filter Cartridge Elements
- Brand Clamp
- Pressure Gauge
- Union Kit
- Air Relief Valve
This round has no winner, as both models come with the same components except for the filter size.
10. Warranty and Aftersales
The Pentair 520 is also a solid and durable pool filter that offers years of service. Pentair also offers a 1 year warranty on the Pentair 520, so you are covered in the event the pool filter fails within the first year of purchase.
Buyers can also reach the team at Pentair for complaints and inquiries. Besides, there are plenty of Pentair 520 guides and manuals. The cartridge replacements are also available at affordable prices.
There is no winner here as both models come from the same brand and are covered by a 1-year warranty. Guides and manuals are also available, and so is customer support. As for replacement parts and supplies, they are also available at affordable prices.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the normal pressure for a Pentair 420 pool filter?
2. How often should you clean Pentair 420 cartridge filter?
3. How do I know if my Pentair 420 pool cartridge is bad?
4. How long does a Pentair 420 cartridge pool filter last?
5. What is the flow rate of the Pentair 520 cartridge filter?
There, you have it, folks, a Pentair 420 vs. 520 comparison review. As you have seen, both are cartridge pool filters with similar features. They have the same design and performance. The assembly, installation, and usability are also at par. The only noteworthy difference is the filtration area. While the Pentair 420 has a 420sq ft filtration area, the Pentair 520 has a 520sq ft of filtration area. So, which model should you go for?
Well, it all depends on your pool’s size and the amount of dirt. The Pentair 420 is a great choice if you have a small and less busy pool. However, if you have a large pool, and want operation at low pressure, get the Pentair 520. You can check out all the latest Pentair discounts available on Amazon today!
Hi! I’m Markus Robertson, and water is my passion.
Five years ago, I graduated from the University of California-Los Angeles and was going to become a professional marine biologist. However, my fate had other plans for me, and due to family problems, I had to find a more stable and well-paid job. I had only one wish for my job to be connected with water.
During this period of my life, I worked as a sales manager at Olympic Pool & Spa Supplies. The job helped me learn everything about swimming pools and related pool equipment, as well as how to choose the best option and what to pay attention to.
Having worked there for three years, I decided to start my own blog about pools, where I can tell people about the best new pool equipment models and share my knowledge and experience.
A marine biologist by education, I became a pool blogger by trade. Now I’m glad I can help the guests of my store and the visitors of my blog know a lot of exciting things about pools, their types, best pumps and filters, necessary equipment maintenance, and so on.
I welcome all people who want to choose a proper basin and the stuff to my blog! Hope you’ll find this information interesting and useful!