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Swim Spa vs Swimming Pool (Detailed comparison: Use, cost, maintenance & more) | HotSpring Spas

Swim Spa vs Swimming Pool (Detailed comparison: Use, cost, maintenance & more)

Are you considering investing in a swim spa or a traditional swimming pool? If so, you’re not alone. Many people are exploring these options and trying to determine which one is the best fit for their needs. To help you make an informed decision, we’ll be doing a detailed comparison of the two options, including their uses, costs, maintenance, and other differences.

Is a swim spa better than a pool?

If you’re currently reading this article, chances are you’re probably considering a swim spa and deciding between investing in a swim spa or a swimming pool.

In this blog we’ll do a detailed comparison on the uses, cost, maintenance and overall difference between a swim spa and a swimming pool. 


What is a swim spa?

For over 20 years, swim spas have been a popular option for those seeking a combination of relaxation and exercise. These spas are similar to traditional hot tubs, but are much bigger, usually spanning between 4 and 8 metres in length, and a depth of 1.3 to 1.5 metres. Instead of still water, swim spas rely on powerful jets to generate a current that allows for swimming in place. 

Why have swim spas become so popular?

One of the main reasons for the growing popularity of swim spas is the increased awareness of their existence over the last 10-15 years.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by Spa World found that only 25% of the population knew what a swim spa was just three years ago. However, there are many other reasons why swim spas are becoming more popular, for example:

  • Large cities and shrinking lands, swim spas and their compact size allows them to fit onto small blocks of land, making them ideal for urban living.
  • Swim spas are much easier to install than traditional swimming pools, which can be a major undertaking. 
  • Swim spas often come equipped with 2-4 hydrotherapy seats for an enjoyable spa experience along with a swimming workout.
  • Water scarcity, swim spas use significantly less water than traditional pools, and their sealed covers help to reduce water loss due to evaporation.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons why swim spas are gaining in popularity, let’s compare them to traditional swimming pools.  

How much does it cost to buy a swim spa compared to buying a pool?

Swim spas and swimming pools come in a range of prices, but you can get a swim spa between $20,000 to $30,000. Of course, the price depends on your preference and needs, and you can spend less if you're looking for non-swimming aquatic fitness. You can also spend more if swimming is your primary reason for purchasing a swim spa which the Endless Swim Spa covers both benefits of a swimming workout and the relaxation of a swim spa jet. 

Aside from buying the swim spa, you'll also need to prepare a concrete pad and an electrical connection, and you may have to invest in fencing according to local council regulations. These additional expenses may raise the minimum amount you'll spend on a quality swim spa to $30,000 to $40,000, which is still cheaper than the cost of a pool. However, the cost may increase depending on the landscaping you want for your backyard, as it would be with a pool.

Swimming pools vary significantly in price based on the type you buy, whether it's above ground or in-ground, and the material used for construction whether it is fibreglass or concrete. If you're looking for a rough estimate, a basic in-ground pool with an average size of 10m x 4.5m will cost around $40,000 to $50,000, including mandatory fencing.

Overall, if you compare the price of a swim spa and a pool, you'll find that a swim spa is the cheaper option, but not by a considerable margin. Nevertheless, a swim spa has many benefits that a pool can't offer, so it's still a worthy investment.

Can you actually swim in a swim spa?

One of the major advantages of a swim spa over a traditional swimming pool is that it allows for swim training. 

Swim spas offer the perfect solution for those who want to use it for swim training without the need for a large space. Think about a regular backyard pool - it's usually not very long, maybe only 8-10 metres, which means you can only swim a few strokes before having to turn around and repeat. This can be frustrating for more experienced swimmers who want to train properly. However, with a swim spa, you have the space to swim continuously and improve your swimming technique without any interruptions.

Swim spas work differently

Using large innovative, patented hot tub jets, swim spas create a current that you can swim against, similar to swimming on a treadmill. However, not all swim spas are created equal when it comes to swimming, so it's important to choose the right one for your needs.

For those who are happy with breaststroke, light freestyle, backstroke, or water walking, a standard swim spa will do the job. But if you're serious about training for the Olympics or want a lap-pool-like experience, consider investing in a swim spa specifically designed for this purpose.

The Hot Spring® Endless® and Fastlane® range and Jacuzzi® PowerPro™ range are some of the best options, but they do come with a higher price tag, ranging from $45,000 to $100,000. However, the swim experience they offer is equal to that of a conventional lap pool.

Is a swim spa or a pool better for kids?

We often get asked whether a pool or a swim spa is better for their kids, but really, they are just different. 

A pool is great for having more space to play and splash around in, especially with water toys. On the other hand, a swim spa has a built-in river that can create up to 2400 litres of water flow per minute, offering a unique experience for all ages. 

A child’s creativity knows no bounds so kids can have just as much fun in a swim spa as they do in a pool. Plus, parents can also enjoy the swim spa's hydrotherapy seats while keeping an eye on the kids.

Can you use a swim spa year-round?

Yes. Swim spas can be highly insulated and come with an exclusive, lockable, and easy installation of spa pool cover. Additionally, they can be equipped with a highly efficient 'heat pump', which functions similarly to a reverse cycle air conditioner in your home.

For these reasons, as well as the fact that a standard swim spa holds about five times less water than a traditional swimming pool, it is an excellent choice for year-round use. 

How much does a swim spa cost to run compared to a swimming pool?

There are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to the cost of running a swim spa during the winter months. You can find out the estimated running cost of your spa pool with our calculator

On average, a 4.5m swim spa installed in a mild climate and used 2-3 times a week over winter will only cost about $100-$200 extra per month on your power bill if it's fitted with a heat pump. That's a pretty good deal when you consider how much it would cost to take your family to a public pool during winter, or how much it would cost to heat a larger swimming pool (which could be over $1000 per month). Endless® and Fastlane® swim spas meet or exceed the stringent California Energy Commission (CEC) and APSP 14 energy efficiency standards for portable spas. They can cost as little as $80 per month to operate without a heat pump.

Which is easier to maintain, a swim spa or a swimming pool?

Many swim spas available on the market make maintenance very easy due to the incorporation of various automatic cleaning systems, including ozone clarifiers, UV sterilisers, saltwater chlorination systems, and different types of filtration. These systems make it possible for you to use only a tablespoon of sanitiser every couple of days and balance the water once a week using a simple test strip.

While many pools do come with automatic cleaning systems, they are typically optional and can be quite costly, running several thousands of dollars. Additionally, if you neglect to take care of your water for a while, a swimming pool will be a lot harder to recover from than a swim spa.

Lastly, maintaining a swimming pool typically requires regular vacuuming, which is not necessary in a swim spa. You may spend up to an hour per week maintaining a swimming pool, compared to only a few minutes for a swim spa.

What are the downsides of a swim spa when compared to a pool?

There are a few things to consider when choosing between a swim spa and a swimming pool - one of them being aesthetic. While a beautifully landscaped pool can add significant value to your backyard, swim spas can also be landscaped to look beautiful. From drab to luxury, you can easily turn your backyard or garden into a tropical paradise. Take a look at some of our luxury design ideas for your backyard in this blog. However, when you move house you can choose to take your swim spas with you.

Another factor to consider is the hardcover. They can be heavy and difficult to manage, particularly if the swim spa is above ground. In this case, investing in a cover lifter for your swim spa is the best option. Speak to our Hot Spring spa sales specialist to learn more.

Below is a quick overview of the pros and cons of swim spas compared to swimming pools to help you decide which option is best for you:

Pros of a swim spa

  • Less space - You don’t need as much space for a swim spa as you would with a swimming pool
  • Affordable - Swim spas are generally more affordable and easier to purchase
  • Good for swim-train - Swim spas can be both for relaxation and swimming training.
  • Use for all season - Swim spas can be used all-year round (but you might notice an increase in your electricity bill if used throughout) 
  • Easy to maintain - Swim spas are easy to maintain and require minimal effort.
  • Best of both worlds - Swim spas are essentially a combination of spa and pool in one 

Cons of a swim spa

  • Less room - Swim spas may offer less space to move around in compared to a traditional swimming pool.
  • Too boring - Some would say swim spas are too boring and may not be as visually pleasing as a pool.
  • Needs cover - Swim spas would always need to be covered. 

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the pros and cons of swim spas compared to swimming pools. Ultimately, the decision on which option is best for you depends on your personal circumstances, but hopefully this guide has helped you take a step in the right direction. If you have any further questions about swim spas or want specific pricing, get in touch or book a test soak with your local Hot Spring dealer today!

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