In ground pool filter question?

Although this is NOT a "home repair" question, I can find nowhere else to ask.
I recently purchased a home that had an inground vinyl lined pool. Over the summer I struggled to keep it clean but eventually a hired technician stated that the filter "cartridges" needed replacing.
As the pool is now closed for the winter I have time to do some research. What I determined was that the two replacement filters (Sta-rite System3) even over the Internet will cost approx $400 or more.
I then thought that a sand filter would be a better solution to this filtering problem.
Therefore, can anyone with a pool comment on ever installing a sand filter and how it performed relative to a paper cartridge or something else? If anyone has installed a sand filter, what was the "average" cost of the device and also the installation and maintenace charges?
Any advice greatly appreciated.
Bob
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cartridge < sand < diatomaceous earth
i would scrap the filter and upgrade to either 2 or 3...
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Had a pool with a cartridge filter ~20 years ago. Then, a replacement cartridge cost ~$70. Found it to be a big pain in the butt cleaning the filter element.
Current pool uses sand filter, at different house, pool built new 6 years ago, so can't comment on the cost to install. Maintenance however is a breeze. Just keep your eye on the pressure, when it goes up 5 pounds or so, set the valves to backwash and turn on the pump. Haven't needed to replace the sand yet.
Combination of sand filter and in-floor popup cleaning system makes the pool virtually maintenance free. Just gotta keep my eye on the chemicals and empty the skimmer baskets once in a while. Have found that the water-powered switch that switches the water to the cleaning heads seems to be a regular failure item - lasts about 2 years - I'm on my 3rd one. Might have something to do with the alkaline water here in AZ.
Jerry
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bobmct writes:

Cartridges are for chumps buying pools from lowball contractors. A pain to clean and true costs are the worst.
Sand filters work and minimize your effort and cost.
DE filters work the best but take more upkeep.
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