With so many options and features available in modern swim spas, it can be extremely difficult to pick which one to buy. Today, we will look at the most important things to look for when buying a swim spa and discuss tips you can use to find the swim spa that will best meets your needs.

Ease Of Maintenance

One of the most important things to determine when buying a swim spa is how easy it will be to maintain. Low maintenance swim spas require only minutes of work a week to stay clear and ready to use. Some other swim spas, on the other hand, may require you to monitor them almost daily to make sure that they are safe to use.

The biggest difference between low and high maintenance swim spas is often in their filtration systems. Most swim spa manufacturers are still – unfortunately – using hot tub filtration systems in their swim spas. While these systems do a good job keeping hot tubs clean, they’re simply not designed to clean the amount of water that is found in the average swim spa. The result is a swim spa that requires constant monitoring, manual cleaning, and more chemicals to stay clear.

Low maintenance swim spas – like Self-Cleaning Hydropool swim spas – instead use a pool style filtration system. These systems are specifically designed to filter large volumes of water and include a floor mounted vacuum to filter out heavier debris; basically eliminating the need for manual cleaning. Because they filter the water so efficiently (Self-Cleaning swim spas from Hydropool are able to clean all of the water in under 45 minutes!) these swim spas also require less maintenance, and less chemicals, than swim spas with a hot tub style filtration system.

self-cleaning swim spas
Hydropool’s unique Self-Cleaning filtration system gives you crystal clear water with less than 5 minutes of weekly maintenance needed!

Energy Efficiency

One of the biggest advantages that swim spas have over pools is their ability to run year round. If you do plan on using your swim spa during the colder months you should ensure that it is as energy efficient as possible.

There are 2 ways to tell if a swim spa is energy efficient:

  • How it is insulated.
  • How efficient its pumps and heater are.

Swim spas running in the winter need to be well insulated. Not only will poorly insulated swim spas cost you more to run, they also run the risk of freezing. Cheaper swim spas often use a thin layer of spray foam to insulate the shell. While this does keep heat in the swim tank, it leaves the plumbing mostly exposed to the elements.

If you plan on using your swim spa during the colder months, especially during the winter, you need to make sure that the swim spa cabinet is also insulated. Cabinet insulation helps further insulate the swim spa by keeping the air in the cabinet warm. In swim spas without cabinet insulation, as the water circulates though the plumbing, it is cooled down by the air in the cabinet, increasing your hydro bill.

Insulating the cabinet not only helps keep the heat in, it also protects your plumbing from the elements; greatly reducing the chances of the pipes freezing. In swim spas without cabinet insulation, when the water isn’t circulating the water left over in the pipes runs the risk of freezing; potentially costing you 100s or even 1000s of dollars in repairs.

The efficiency of a swim spa’s equipment (pumps and heater) is also a big factor in the overall energy efficiency of a swim spa. Simply put, the less power the equipment uses, the lower your hydro bill will be. This is another advantage of using a pool style filtration system in a swim spa. Because they filter the water so quickly, these filtration systems don’t need to run for nearly as long. If the filtration pumps aren’t running, they’re not costing you anything!

A Swim Current That Fits Your Needs

When judging swim spa currents, the biggest thing to consider is the swimming ability of everyone who will be using the swim spa. You want to make sure that both the strongest and weakest swimmers in your family will be able to enjoy swimming. To ensure that everyone is comfortable swimming in you new swim spa, the current will need to be:

  • Strong. The swim current should be strong enough for the strongest swimmer to get a good workout.
  • Easily controlled. The current needs to be able to be turned down to a level that is comfortable for the weakest swimmer to use.
  • Smooth. The current should be as turbulence-free as possible. The more turbulence a current has, the less enjoyable the swim experience will be for swimmers of all abilities.
  • Wide. The wider the swim lane is, the more enjoyable the swim experience will be for swimmers of all abilities.

For more info on swim spa currents, check out our guide to picking the right swim spa current.

Installation Flexibility

Another thing to consider when buying a swim spa is your final design. Will the swim spa be installed above ground, in-ground, or partially in-ground?

Standard swim spas do not do well when installed in-ground for two reasons:

  • The equipment is placed at the bottom of the swim spa, leaving the electronics vulnerable to ground water.
  • Most standard swim spa cabinets and frames aren’t strong enough to be backfilled against. This means that a concrete “bunker” needs to be constructed around the swim spa, increasing the cost of the install.

Installing a swim spa in-ground, or partially in-ground, requires that the swim spa be designed with that in mind.

If you’re planning on installing the swim spa either fully or partially in-ground, you need to make sure that the swim spa has the ability to handle such an install. Look for swim spas that offer in-ground installation packages.

For example, Hydropool swim spas are able to be ordered with back-fillable frames for in-ground installations. These frames are stronger than standard frames; eliminating the need for concrete bunkers. If you order a back-fillable frame, Hydropool will also install the electronics of the swim spa 18″ higher than normal to keep them out of any potential ground water issues.

One Tank Or Two?

The last thing to consider when buying a swim spa is if you plan on using it as both a hot tub and a pool. If so then you should strongly consider a “dual temp” swim spa.

Dual temp swim spas offer two tanks of water, one to be operated as a hot tub, the other as a pool. This design allows you to keep the swimming end at a comfortable swimming temperature, while also being able to operate the hot tub at a higher temperature.

Since they are plumbed completely separately from one another, this two tank design also gives you the flexibility to close down one end while keeping the other going; useful if you want to turn off the pool for the winter but continue using the hot tub.

Dual temperature swim spas allow the hot tub and swim spa ends to be set to two different temperatures; providing greater flexibility for swim spa owners.

Wrapping Up

Swim spas combine the benefits of a pool and a hot tub into one unit; offering a unique blend of fun, relaxation and fitness. Their ease of maintenance, energy efficiency and extended swimming season also make them the ideal pool for many families. While they were almost unknown until recently, swim spas have exploded in popularity over the last few years.

While you may at first find it difficult to choose which swim spa is right for you, following this guide should help you find the swim spa that best fits your family’s needs.

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