Is a Swim Spa Worth It? | Cost, Benefits & Alternatives

I recently visited Chad Power at Big Star Backyards in Austin, Texas to find out if a swim spa is really worth the investment. He not only answered my question, he gave me a hands-on demo!

Is a Swim Spa Worth It?

For the exerciser who loves to swim, a swim spa can be worth the considerable expense, especially when you consider that you can use a swim spa as an exercise machine, a swimming pool and a hot tub combined. On average, a swim spa will cost more than a hot tub but less than a swimming pool of equal size.

A swim spa provides an adjustable current. so you can stay in place, while swimming against the current. 

With many models, you can also turn off the current to soak as you would in a hot tub at one end. Or turn off the current and just splash around or float on your back, as you would in a pool.

After explaining the features and benefits of the swim spa and how the jets work, Chad adjusted the flow from the jets so that I could test the strength of the current with an oar – the pressure gave me a complete upper body workout, and I wasn’t even in the water!


Is a Swim Spa Worth It?

What is a swim spa?

If you enjoy swimming, a swim spa is the ultimate year-round swimming pool. A swim spa is a safe option for swimmers and non-swimmers alike, with options for both groups to exercise or relax all year round, never mind the weather!

Swim spas can be installed indoors or outdoors and are available in different sizes and shapes. Each swim spa is fitted with a safety thermal cover, reducing maintenance costs by keeping debris out and heat in.

So, if you are looking for a good all-around pool that your family can enjoy in all weather, the swim spa may be worth the price.


Is a Swim Spa a Good Investment?

Installing a swimming spa in your backyard is certainly an investment in your family’s well-being, but it might not add resale value to your home.

While adding a permanent fixture like a swim spa or hot tub of any kind adds to the home’s aesthetics, these tubs are not considered an investment or an asset.

Health-conscious prospective home buyers are not likely to see the value in a used hot tub and could insist on removing the tub before they move into the home.

But don’t discount the value of a swimming spa or hot tub for your family, as most homeowners will upgrade the area surrounding the tub or spa, creating a stylish entertainment area and a place for the family to relax and enjoy time together.


So How Much Does A Swim Spa Cost?

As swim spas are available in different sizes and features and with different functions, you could expect to pay a hefty price for one.

Before you decide on what to buy, listen to what Chad has to say on the subject:

“Don’t look at the price of the swim spa. Rather check out the quality. Check out the service warranty and ensure it is from a reliable manufacturer as they are providing the cover for the pool instead of an Insurance Company who might not know the product. 

The manufacturer’s warranty could last from 2 to 3 years, 5 -10 years, or even a lifetime.

A basic swim spa starts at $17,000. As you add more bells and whistles, and increase the size of the swim spa, the price can go up to $52,000. Expect to pay $22,000-$23,000 for a mid-level, mid-size swim spa. 

  • Bells and whistles might include:
  • Self-cleaning technology
  • LED lighting
  • Safety steps
  • Hydrotherapeutic seats with jetted massage
  • Pillows
  • Floor mat

Chad Power says that you can get a 15-foot swim spa from Big Yards Backyards in Austin, TX for about $32,000, if you’re paying cash. “That’s a lot less than a pool,” says Chad.


Swim Spa Installation Costs

a young couple calculates their bathtub budget


The installation costs of a swim spa are determined by the following:

  • The location. How easy is it to access the spa once it’s installed? Do you need to build a deck, buy a ladder, or remodel your home?
  • Your available space. Make sure that you measure your available space before purchasing the swim spa. A swim spa is ideal for a small or a large backyard and can be installed above ground or in-ground – it depends on your budget.
  • The dimensions of the spa. Purchase the right size spa for your lifestyle.
  • The foundation requirements. A solid and structurally sound, level surface is needed for the tub to operate. Factor in the weight – a swim spa full of water and people is heavy. Ensure that you have the right foundation to carry the weight.
  • Power and water. Access to water and electricity is a must to run the spa.

Installation of a new swim spa will require the services of:

  • A swim spa installation contractor
  • An electrician
  • A plumber 

Contact your local construction company for quotes before deciding on the spa size that’s right for your space. Ensure that the contractor you use is experienced in installing swim spas. Then factor remodeling and installation costs into your overall budget. 


Running Cost of a Swim Spa


Swim spas are extremely energy efficient. Each spa is equipped with a temperature-controlled water heating system allowing you to choose the temperature for the season.

Experts estimate that the power costs of a swim spa cost less than a cup of coffee per day to run. The actual costs are determined by the volume of water in the tub, the temperature of the water, and the number of users in the pool at any time. 

  • Budget around $15 – $35 per month for chemicals and an extra $100 – $150 per month for repairs – you might not use this budget every month, but it’s nice to have the budget if you do need it!  


Can you Reduce the Running Costs of a Swim Spa?

While the above figures do not sound extravagant, there are ways that you could lower these costs:

  • Using your swim spa during off-peak hours or simply lowering the temperature will reduce your bill.
  • Fitting an insulated cover over the spa whenever the spa is not in use helps keep the water clean and at a warmer temperature for longer, reducing the energy needed to heat the water up the next time you use the spa and reducing operational costs.
  • Keep the spa running 24/7, even during winter. Heating the water every time you use the spa is expensive, so maintaining the water temperature will save you money in the long run.
  • Keep the spa clean! Dirty tubs, filters, and jets increase energy usage as the system works harder to keep the water clean and clear. 


What is a Swim Spa?

swim spa

A swim spa is smaller than your average swimming pool but bigger than your home spa or hot tub. Whereas a hot tub is exclusively designed for relaxation, a swim spa is designed for water fun, relaxation, and exercise.

You can use a swim spa for in-place swimming, aquatic running (which is much easier on the joints than running on asphalt), and for cross-fit training.

Designed for both purposes, a swim spa can be used as a small swimming pool to splash around or swim laps in, or it can simply be used as a hot tub.

Swim spas are available in different sizes but are generally larger than your average hot tub or spa. Swim spas are molded acrylic, single-shell tubs that arrive ready to install.


Is a Swim Spa the Same as a Hot Tub?

A swim spa offers the same benefits as a spa or hot tub. The water is heated, and it does sport hydromassage jets perfect for that relaxing soaking experience at the end of the day. 

An inclusive seating area is provided inside each swimming spa but the tub is bigger and holds more water – a plus for larger families who like to spend time quality time together or for socializing with a group of friends.

While a hot tub is generally designed for a few people at a time, a swimming spa has a bigger capacity as it is geared towards a bigger group of people or is used for individual workouts.


What are the Differences Between a Swim Spa and a Hot Tub?

Swim Spas

Swim spas and hot tubs do have some features in common:

  • Hydrotherapy jets
  • Control systems
  • Interior lighting
  • Blue-tooth technology
  • Ergonomic seating

But, they do have different features that set them apart from each other. This is how to tell the difference between a swim spa and a hot tub:

Swim spaHot tub

SizeDouble or triple the size of a hot tub because of the tub size
Small spas 10 – 11 feet
Medium spas 12 – 16 feet
Large spas 17 – 18 feet
Average size is between 7 and 9 square feet
Small tubs 5.5 - 6.5 feet
Medium tubs 7 feet
Large 7.5 - 9 feet
FunctionExercise, recreation, fun
Provides a current with resistance for swimmers to train
Relaxation, rest, socializing
Hydrotherapy for rehabilitation of muscle and joint injuries
Cost$17 000 - $52,000 USD (excluding installation and landscaping)$4 000 - $16 000 + USD (excluding installation and extra features)

If you’re thinking of buying a hot tub instead, read my ultimate guide.


Is a Swim Spa the Same as a Pool?

Although a swim spa is designed to provide a relaxing experience for the bather, it can be used as a swimming pool. The jet propulsion system in the collection creates the perfect environment for light exercise activities like aerobics or swimming.

The jets provide a continuous current, allowing the swimmer to swim in one place against the current. This provides a complete workout for the swimmer as he can practice full strokes without having to perform a flip-turn at the end of the pool.


What are the Benefits of a Swim Spa?

Benefits of swim spa

A swim spa is ideal for those who love to swim but can’t afford the cost of a swimming pool. A swim spa is the perfect exercise solution for those with mobility problems or for a great workout at home.

Some of the benefits of a swim spa include:

  • Full work out in the privacy of your own home or backyard
  • Exercise all muscles and joints at the same time
  • Less strain on joints and muscles
  • Burns calories
  • Increases flexibility and muscle strength
  • Massages sore muscles


What You Should Know Before You Buy A Swim Spa

Do your research before you buy a swim spa. Local regulations will determine the rules for your swimming spa, especially if you install your spa outdoors.

You’ll want to look into the following items before determining which swim spa is right for you:


Local Regulations

Permits and fencing requirements
Zoning regulations and building codes
Indoor swim spaCeiling height
Adequate ventilation
Nonslip floor material around the spa
Proper floor drainage
Power supply
Outdoor swim spaSwimming seasons
The soil type in your area
Level ground for the installation
Access to the space
Security around the pool
Power supply


So Is a Swim Spa Really Worth It?

A swim spa offers a complete wellness package, from a great workout to a relaxing soak. The beauty of an at-home swim spa is that you can use it anytime, and you don’t have to be an experienced swimmer to enjoy the water. If you can afford the price tag, you may find a swim spa well worth it.

Tags: Is a swim spa worth it?, swim spa, swim spa installation cost, swim spa vs hot tub, What is a swim spa?

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