Swim Spa vs Pool
If you are looking to get a pool for swimming, but think you'd also enjoy the benefits of a hot tub, a swim spa may be your answer.
We're going to dive right into the upfront costs as well as maintenance costs, space considerations and more. Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of swimming pool vs swim spa ownership.
We cover all the factors you should think about before taking the final plunge.
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Should I Purchase A Lap Pool Or A Swim Spa?
What is a Lap Pool?
A lap pool is a long and narrow rectangular swimming pool that is designed specifically to swim laps in. They are generally built as in-ground pools but can also be installed as above-ground pools.
Typically lap pools are about 40 feet in length but can be much longer, and range from about six to ten feet wide. For a good swimming experience, when it comes to the depth lap pools must be deep enough so swimmers don't hit the bottom with their limbs so the usual depth is between three and a half to four feet.
This style of pool is a great idea for serious swimmers or those who have a narrow backyard. They can also be used as a traditional pool, for family fun or a pool party but there is no deep end so are not suitable for diving. There are also no wide steps, so may not be ideal for young children to play in.
Options such as water heating and the addition of a swim current are possible in a lap pool and a traditional full-sized pool.
What is a Swim Spa?
A swim spa is basically a hybrid of a hot tub and a swimming pool. One end of a swim spa features a hot tub seating area with massage jets and the pool end has powerful swim jets that produce a current perfect for swimming in. You can enjoy all the health benefits and hydrotherapy of a hot tub whilst boosting your cardiovascular health in the pool area.
Some models of swim spa hot tub combos have a physical divider between the spa and pool area and features that allow the water temperature of the two areas to be controlled separately.
These tend to be the more expensive higher-end models of swim spas. More affordable swim spas tend to have an open plan design.
Swim spas are a great idea if you have limited space or for small backyards. When it comes to swim spa installation you can have your swim spa indoors or outside. A swim spa can also be used year-round as they come with a water heater.
Many swim spas come with exercise equipment as standard such as rowing kits so you are not just limited to swimming. Swim spas are also ideal for aquatic resistance band training.
Factors To Consider
Swim spas offer a great alternative to a standard pool. Let's take a closer look at some of the factors you should consider before deciding between a full-sized pool, lap pool, or swim spa.
Which Is Cheaper To Buy?
There are two main significant costs you have to budget for when buying a pool or swim spa, the purchase cost, and the installation costs.
Above-ground pools cost around $6,000 to $10,000 and in-ground pools are more expensive, costing over $40,000. The cost of a typical swim spa falls between these two, at around $20,000 to $35,000.
In-ground pools are far more expensive when it comes to installation than swim spas and above-ground pools, as they need landscaping.
Installing a swim spa is pretty straightforward as it needs an electrical hook-up which costs about $1000 to $1500, and a poured concrete pad costing around $1,500 to $2,500, so it has a similar installation cost to an above-ground pool.
How Much Space Do I Have?
The space where you are going to have your pool or swim spa is a significant consideration. If you have a small backyard, you are unlikely to have enough room for a lap pool or a full-sized pool. Smaller swim spa dimensions may be your only option.
A long or narrower plot of land may be able to accommodate a lap pool rather than a traditional full-sized backyard pool. However, you should consider how much of the outdoor space it will take up as you may still want garden space for other things like sports.
If you are lucky enough to have a very large space then you could opt for either a pool or swim spa.
Do I Want Hydrotherapy?
Swim spas offer all the benefits of hot tubs when it comes to massages and hydrotherapy. Regular swimming pools or lap pools don't have this feature. If you have the space and the money you could opt for a pool and separate hot tub.
How Much Does It Cost To Run A Pool Per Month?
This will depend on the size of your pool, and whether it is heated. Traditional pools will require cleaning chemicals, electricity to run the large pumps, and manpower to keep the pool clean of floating debris.
If you choose to have your swimming pool maintenance taken care of by a pool company it can cost between $200 to $400 per month depending on your location. If you choose to undertake the weekly maintenance yourself you will need to set aside the time to do this.
To extend your swimming season you can opt for a heated pool.
Heated pools will cost a lot more to run, so will add around $100 a month to your heating bills.
If you live somewhere that gets a lot of sun you can go for a solar heating system which means lower long-term heating bills although there is an installation cost of around $7,000 to $9,000 to consider as well as the $50 to $100 per year to power the pump.
Overall Running Costs
The running costs of an average pool can be anywhere between $500 to $4,000 each year which works out as $42 to $333 per month.
How Much Does It Cost To Run A Swim Spa Per Month?
The monthly running cost of a swim spa will depend on the model and brand of the swim spa, as well as your location and how often you use the spa. If you live somewhere cooler or use your swim spa more often in the winter months then your heating bills are likely to be higher.
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Like a regular pool, a swim spa will require maintenance however it is on a much smaller scale. Swim spa owners will find they spend significantly less on swim spa maintenance compared to pool owners.
For swim spas, it's recommended to put aside around $10 per month in case of any minor repair being needed, obviously, if something larger needs seeing to, it will cost a lot more.
Are swim spas worth it? In-ground pools' heating bills can reach over $100 each month but since swim spas are much smaller and have built-in insulation, it can cost less than half of the running costs of your typical in-ground pool.
Choosing a particularly energy-efficient swim spa model with full-foam insulation will also bring down costs.
If you decide to opt for indoor installation or have your swim spa recessed in-ground, this will also reduce waste heat.
Overall Running Costs
The average cost of running a swim spa is generally much lower than that of traditional pools. Monthly running costs are around $50 to $100 for regular use which is why we believe that they are great pool alternatives.
If you're looking at hot tubs and pools, you may want to consider a swim spa. A swim spa offers year-round relaxation, pool fun, aquatic exercise, and can extend your swim season. Many families find swim spas are a great alternative to a regular pool, and in particular if you have a small backyard and want lower running costs.
When it comes to pool vs swim spa, the final decision depends on many other factors, the main ones being the purchase and installation costs, running costs, the space you have available, and whether you are after massage and hydrotherapy features.
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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.