Pleatco vs Unicel- Which Brand Makes Better Pool Filters?

The hunt for replacement pool filter cartridges can be a tiring one, especially now that the market is flooded with options. It is particularly hard to tell a fine quality filter cartridge from a cheap, substandard knock-off. Pleatco and Unicel are two of the toughest competitors for the best replacement filter cartridges. Both are US based brands that have launched some excellent quality filter cartridges over the years.

If you are having a hard time deciding which of these to go for, here is a detailed comparison of the two to make the choice easier for you.

Performance And Efficiency


In terms of performance, Pleatco holds a steady place among the top tier filter cartridges. This is mainly due to its innovative design and advanced materials.

Instead of the traditional filter material – Reemay, Pleatco uses a pharmaceutical grade filter fabric in its cartridges. This allows more finer particles to be trapped and filtered out, and also allows for better water flow, thus increasing efficiency.

In addition to this, the core of newer Pleatco cartridges is made of polyurethane, which not only allows the water to flow more freely but also provides about 50% free area to the filtration fabric. This means that more dirt is captured in little time and you get a sparkly clean pool. 

In short, Pleatco fares exceptionally well in terms of both performance and efficiency.


Unicel has been manufacturing superior quality replacement cartridges for over 40 years, and is relied upon by its dedicated customers. The cartridges launched by Unicel are almost equivalent to original filter cartridges in terms of both quality and specifications.

It uses the traditional, industrial filter fabric Reemay as the filtration medium, which has been used for decades for this job and does it well. The core of the filter cartridge is made of PVC. It provides a free area of about 18% to the filtration medium, which is significantly lesser than that of Pleatco.

This also means that the water flow through Unicel is considerably less, and results in decreased efficiency. Hence, the filter cartridges of Unicel do perform superbly, but at a relatively slow rate.

Durability And Maintenance


Pleatco uses top quality materials for the manufacturing of its filter cartridges. The filtration material is strong and robust, and returns to its original condition after completing the cycle.

This not only allows it to withstand heavy debris, but also makes the cartridges easy to clean and maintain.

However, the unusual cage design of the core makes it slightly more susceptible to malfunctioning and damage than the more traditional ones.

Another factor that adds to the decrease in lifespan is that some models of Pleatco cartridges do not have bands. The pleats are held in position from the inside. In case of high water flow or extra load, the pleats are likely to lose their positioning. 

Pleatco pool cartridges are known to last for about 2 to 4 years before needing to be replaced. 


As we have mentioned before, Unicel uses sturdier materials in the manufacturing of filter cartridges, that are specifically meant for this job. Thus, they are able to withstand the water pressure and load of the debris in a much better way.

The filtration medium and core of Unicel filter cartridges can last for a significantly long time without wear and tear, given that it is taken care of and cleaned at least once a year.

However, there have been complaints regarding the bands on the filter medium breaking under increased water pressure.

Unicel filter cartridges can last for up to 5 years. 

Product Line-Up

Here are some of the most popular models of replacement filter cartridges by the two brands.


  1. Pleatco PA175 Replacement Cartridge (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Pleatco PA90 Replacement Filter Cartridge
  3. Pleatco PCC105-PAK4 Replacement Cartridge
  4. Pleatco PFS2448 Cartridge/Grid Replacement


  1. Unicel C8412 (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Unicel C-8350 Replacement Filter Cartridge
  3. Unicel C-7676 Hayward Replacement
  4. Unicel C-7466 Replacement Filter Cartridge

Cost And Value For Money


A major reason for the popularity of Pleatco filter cartridges has been their cost effectiveness. As compared to almost all other top tier brands, Pleatco offers its products at a significantly lower cost while maintaining the superb quality.

The lower retail price, coupled with the employment of newer and advanced materials makes a surprising but smoking deal. Hence, it is safe to say that Pleatco offers a stunningly good value for the money.


The replacement filter cartridges by Unicel are marketed at a comparatively higher price. Most of the models retail for approximately $50 to $60 higher than comparative models from Pleatco.

Given that Unicel uses the same traditional materials and equipment as other brands, this might seem like an expensive option to go for. However, it is important to note that Unicel offers a much better quality and higher standard products than most other brands, that are likely to last for a long time.

Thus, it can be argued that the relatively higher cost of Unicel products is justified. If you have decided to go with Unicel filters, visit Unicel’s official store at Amazon to find their entire range and compatibility information. They are offering reasonable prices there, in my opinion.


Unicel and Pleatco are both reliable brands that live up to the expectations that any pool owner might have. However, Pleatco has taken a step forward by launching improvised and modern products to deal with dirty pools more effectively, and that too, at a more reasonable cost. Therefore, it can be said that Pleatco is a more worthwhile investment among the two.

If you have decided to go with Pleatco filters, visit Pleatco’s official store at Amazon to find their entire range and compatibility information. They also seem to offer the best prices.

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