Salt Water Swim Spa
Swim spa and hot tub customers often ask whether salt water pool systems are worth the extra upfront expense. The short answer is yes, but how do they stack up and which are the best saltwater swim spas currently on the market?
Here I'll review some of the top brands offering salt-water chlorinators for swim spas, as well as explain the pros and cons of salt-water technology over other systems. If you're considering a salt-water pool for your own home, here's all the information you really need to make an informed choice.
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Price Guide: How Much Does A Salt Water Swim Spa Cost?
If you're looking into buying a swim spa you'll already know they don't come cheap. Although you can get a basic swim spa for as little as $8000, these tend not to be particularly durable or energy-efficient and the performance isn't generally up to scratch either. For a decent swim spa, expect to pay between $15000-$30000, with some top-end models costing more.
The good news is, a saltwater system is not going to make a huge difference to this price. Although they are more expensive, the difference between the cost of salt water swim spas and an equivalent standard system is only in the region of $200-$700. Hardly a significant extra expense on a purchase of $20k+.
It's also worth noting that even relatively expensive swim spas are still only around half the price of having a swimming pool built, as well as having additional benefits over most backyard pools. If you want to know more about prices in your area, click the button below. You can enter your preferences to get the lowest quotes from swim spa brands that sell exactly what you're looking for.
Pros & Cons Of Salt Water Swim Spa Ownership
Most Popular Salt Water Chlorinator Systems For Swim Spas
1 - Best Automated Chlorinator - Pentair IntelliChlor IC40
Pentair IntelliChlor series chlorinators are designed to take the guesswork out of salt-water systems management for pools, swim spas, and hot tubs.
The IC40 was originally developed for pools, so will make light work of providing a salt-water swim experience in even the largest hybrid swim spas.
Producing pure chlorine from standard table salt, their automation and self-cleaning technology provides perfectly balanced swim spa water and requires very little maintenance. The latter is largely due to the on-time cycling process, which prevents corrosion and the buildup of limescale or calcium deposits.
At over $600, the IntelliChlor IC40 is toward the more expensive end of the chlorinator market. That said, the ongoing benefits of using one of these in your backyard pool or swim spa more than make up for the cost.
2 - Most Easily Adjustable - ControlOMatic MegaChlor with Chlorine Detection
Many spa/hot tub-specific salt-water chlorinators lack the capacity to deal with swim spas with capacities over 1000gallons.
Not so The ControlOmatic Megachlor, which is rated to handle up to 5000gallon capacity units.
Owners find the cabinet-mounted controls easy to use, adjusting the chlorination levels to the perfect balance of gentle skin feel and effective sanitization.
The unit can even be set to provide an automated hyper chlorination cycle if the swim spa has been subject to external contamination.
At around $600, you shouldn't expect a significant saving compared to the Pentair IntelliChlor IC4o, but then you're not taking much of a hit on specification either. The one potential disadvantage of this unit is aesthetics, with some owners preferring not to screw an external control box onto their swim spa cabinet.
3 - Best on a budget - Solaxx Saltron Mini
At under $300, the Saltron Mini salt-water chlorinator from Solaxx is around half the price of the other two models reviewed here.
However, the simple cartridge-based system still provides similar benefits in terms of a relaxing, skin-friendly, easy-to-maintain swim spa experience.
The only real limitations of this system are capacity (this is only suitable for swim spa models under 2000gallons), and the cartridge's shorter lifespan compared to the cells used in the more expensive chlorinators.
That said, at just over $100, buying a replacement cartridge every 1.5-2 years is unlikely to break the bank, so this is still an excellent water management choice for owners of smaller swim spas.
Should I Buy A Swim Spa Or A Swimming Pool?
The swim spa vs pool question is quite personal, in that you need to consider space, budget, and the intended use of your salt-water pool.
If you have limited space and want a pool primarily for swim/fitness training, a swim spa offers much better functionality than a small backyard pool. Trying to swim when you can only put in a few strokes before having to turn around is frustrating and ineffective, whereas the jets in a swim spa allow you to continue swimming in one direction indefinitely.
Equally, if relaxing is your thing, most swim spas feature hydrotherapy massage stations which create that same soothing experience you'd expect from a hot tub. Meanwhile, for year-round use, heating a larger pool also ends up costing much more money. With some swim spas, much of the heat is even generated by the jet pump for better energy efficiency.
Of course, if budget and space are not an issue, a decent-sized swimming pool and separate hot tub can provide most of the benefits of a swim spa. At the same time, this type of setup has a much higher capacity in terms of being able to entertain larger numbers of people.
Why Does A Swim Spa Need Chemicals?
It's vital to keep your swim spa water clean to prevent the buildup of algae, bacteria, and other potentially harmful microorganisms. This is generally achieved by using either chlorine or bromine as a sterilizing agent. In addition to the health aspects, crystal clear water is a lot more inviting for swim spa users and helps reduce corrosion and damage to pumps, metal components, etc.
Some higher-end hot tub and swim spa brands use alternatives to chlorine, such as Ozonators and/or a UV-C sterilization system. These are very effective but do significantly increase the purchase cost of the pools, compared to adding salt-water technology to a more basic system.
Why Choose A Swim Spa With A Salt Water System?
Maintaining clean water in a swim spa can involve adding a lot of unpleasant chemicals such as chlorine. Saltwater systems create suitably balanced water chemistry without the same level of caustic or poisonous inputs, using nothing more complex than ordinary table salt.
Not only does this provide benefits in terms of being gentler on sensitive skin and more environmentally friendly, but fewer chemicals can also less time and expense on maintenance. So, you save money in the long term and get to spend more time enjoying your swim spa.
Salt-water swim spas definitely have an advantage over a pool or spa running on older chlorine or bromine-based systems. They reduce the levels of potentially harmful chemicals in the water and can make your spa easier to maintain in the process.
The salt water also provides an improved, softer skin feel and extra buoyancy whilst swimming. Although many top swim spas already use advanced, low-chemical systems to process and clean the water, these fringe benefits may still be sufficient to convince users to add a salt cell. There shouldn't be an issue with compatibility in any case.
If you're still considering your options, fill out the form below. The quotes you receive will be tailored to your precise requirements and the available options in your local area.
About The Author
Bobby Gifford // Staff Writer
Bobby Gifford has over 17 years of experience with hot tubs and swimming pools. He has owned one pool and several hot tub brands over the years and has a wide scope of knowledge including buying information, maintenance and industry trends.