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Swim Spas vs Hot Tubs: The Top 3 Advantages & Disadvantages of Both

The advantages and disadvantages of swim spas and hot tubs, and the differences between the two.

Trying to decide between a swim spa vs hot tub? There are so many options on the market it can be difficult to make an informed decision. We’ll help you sort through the differences between a hot tub and a swim spa and decide which one is best for you. But first, let’s cover the basics:

What Is a Hot Tub?

Hot tubs use hot water and massage jets to provide relaxation, comfort, and seating options. Most hot tubs are built to fit between two and six people, but there are larger hot tubs that can fit up to ten to twelve people. Find out if a hot tub is the right choice for you.

What Is a Swim Spa?

A swim spa is a hybrid of a swimming pool and a hot tub. It has the hot water jetted system and seating arrangement of a hot tub, but the lengthened shape and depth of a swimming pool. Swim spas use their powerful jets to create a constant current for exercise.

Top 3 Advantages of a Swim Spa 

1. Fitness and Exercise

swim spa exercise

If you’re all about fitness and keeping in shape, a swim spa would provide the most benefits. With a swim spa, you will not be obligated to keep to a gym schedule or have to leave mid-workout because the gym is closing. Swim spas do not have closing hours and will always be in your backyard whenever you feel ready to work out. 

The current the powerful jets create forms a resistance that is useful for a variety of activities. Swimmers will not have to worry about completing swim laps, but rather focus on improving their strokes as the currents keep you swimming in the same spot. The currents could also be used as an invisible treadmill to walk against and burn calories. Working out in water can help many arthritic people or people with general body aches. It is also useful to beginners who would love to learn how to swim. 

After burning those calories and getting your exercise, you can finally retreat to the spa area to wrap it up with a sweet massage.

2. Family Recreation All Year Round

Traditional swimming pools are not the most fun to use at night because it gets chilly and you might freeze if you dare to use them in the winter. But with swim spas, it’s different. Swim spas are designed to work in all temperature conditions all year round. It can be a big lure to have the whole family spend some quality time in a fun and engaging environment. Children can never say no to splashing around in the water, especially if it’s not too big and not too cold. You can have them play some water games with less risk of injury and you can use the opportunity to teach them how to swim as well as some life-saving skills in a safe space. 

3. Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is using water to help physical health and wellbeing. People use the swim current to create gentle muscle resistance during physiotherapy. Gentle exercise helps stimulate sore muscles while the heated water aids relaxation.

What to Consider Before Getting a Swim Spa

Before getting a swim spa, you might want to consider a few things.

First of all, how large do you want your swim spa to be? Do you have the space to install one in your backyard? While a swim spa is smaller than a regular pool, it will still require more room than a hot tub.

Second, do you have the support for your new installation? You need to be sure to properly prepare for your swim spa delivery. The larger tank requires a lot of support, making on-ground installations much better than an on-deck installation. If you want to go ahead with a deck install, a survey by a structural engineer may identify any extra support needed. Another solution to swim spa placement is to build a swim spa deck surrounding the unit for easier access.

Answering these questions will help you decide if a swim spa is worth it for you!

The Top 3 Disadvantages of a Swim Spa

1. Operating Cost

Swim spas are ideal for soaking or swimming even in chilly temperatures. The price difference between a hot tub and a swim spa is shrinking, but the operating costs of the larger pool are higher. They require more insulation, more heating, and more powerful pumps, as well as higher chemical dosages to treat the water.

2. Seating Arrangement

You may need to find a compromise when looking at swim spa models. They aren’t quite a swimming pool, but they aren’t really a hot tub, either. The seats might be functional, but not quite as luxurious as those you might find in a hot tub.

3. Installation is More Difficult


Swim spas can be installed in-ground, above-ground and halfway, indoors or in your backyard. But the thing is, swim spas are heavy and will become even heavier with a full water tank, therefore you have to consider the strength of your preferred platform. However, you can consult a professional to survey your patio or whatever platform you would like to hold the swim spa.

For more tips, you can read our guide on how to determine if a deck can support a hot tub.

The Top 3 Advantages of a Hot Tub

1. Relaxation

Soaking in a hot tub is the best way to unwind after a long, hectic day. The hot tub jetted massages are always spot on, easing tensed muscles that developed during the day. Hot tubs are a great way to cope with insomnia. Using a hot tub before bed can help you sleep better.

Hot tubs can also help to ease the mind and get you mentally prepared for your day. Hot tub stress relief comes from the warm water, soothing jets, and time for relaxation.

2. Family & Friends Time

After a long day of playing with toys and school, you can spend some time with your family just enjoying each other’s company as you unwind and create some concrete memories that will last a lifetime.

Hot tub parties are also a great way to bring everyone together for a good time. There is no better place than to soak in bubbly hot water and gossip with friends than a hot tub. Hot tubs create this air of comfort with installed lights, seating arrangements, and sometimes even a stereo system.

hot tub hydrotheraphy

3. Health

Hot tubs are therapeutic and they also have tremendous health benefits. A soak in the hot tub with the right temperature and pressure can improve the cardiovascular system. Physiotherapists around the world also use hot tubs in their hydrotherapy routine. Hot tubs can also be extremely beneficial for people with arthritis.

What to Consider Before Buying a Hot Tub

Before getting a hot tub, you should consider how long the hot tub will last. Examine the warranty and guarantees on offer from hot tub manufacturers to get the most reliable hot tub for your money.

What purpose would you want the hot tub to accomplish? Are you into the therapeutic qualities of water rather than physical fitness? If so, then a hot tub would be the best fit for you. 

Also, how many people would you want to fit in your hot tub? You might want to go for a bigger tub if you’re looking to host tub parties for a large group of friends or smaller for just you and your partner.

There are a lot of other things you should consider before getting a hot tub. Here’s an extensive guide on how to choose a hot tub.

As with swim spas, it is important to properly prepare for a hot tub delivery. Choose a location that will be easy to access and ensure the path is cleared beforehand.

The Top 2 Disadvantages of Hot Tubs

1. Operating Cost

The jets, heat pumps as well as other hot tub controls consume a lot of energy and therefore can bring back high-cost power bills. However, most hot tubs have improved their designs like heat insulation to prevent heat loss, making them more energy conserving and less expensive.

Check out our article to answer the question how much electricity does a hot tub use?

2. Less Novel After Time

When you first get a hot tub, you might use them every day for maximum enjoyment. After a while, you might be going for a soak once or twice a week. Later, the maintenance of keeping the hot tub can potentially become greater than the joy you get from using yours.

What’s The Difference Between Hot Tubs and Swim Spas?

Swim spas and hot tubs are very similar, considering the latter is a hybrid. But the differences between them both is in their:

1. Size – Swim Spas are Bigger

A hot tub does not require a large backyard or outdoor space for installation. Swim spas, however, need more space and support. So while there might be enough room or more space to fit it in indoors, the flooring might not be strong enough to support it.

2. Features 

Hot tubs and swim spas have practically the same features. However, swim spas are designed for mostly exercise and fitness while hot tubs are made for relaxation

3. Cost – Swim Spas are More Expensive than Hot Tubs

A swim spa is larger than a hot tub, which means more cost for the unit, the equipment, and the installation. The operating costs will also be higher. 

4. Use

A hot tub and a swim spa are both used for healing and physiotherapy, but only a swim spa can be used for both fitness, recreation, and therapy for those who want a more active lifestyle.

5. Location – Hot Tubs are a Lot More Flexible than Swim Spas

A difference between swim spa and hot tub installations is simply size. Hot tubs are smaller and have more flexibility to find the perfect spot.

Can a Swim Spa be Used as a Hot Tub?

Yes, you can use a swim spa as a hot tub. Many of them feature dedicated seats so you can enjoy a relaxing time after your exercise. Their hydrotherapy jets can be a perfect choice to complement your exercise regimen.

Can’t Decide between Swim Spa vs Hot Tub?

Swim spas and hot tubs are both incredible choices for private time, recreation, health, and body fitness. It’s therefore natural to have a hard time making a choice.We hope you have a little more clarity on where your priorities should lie and, therefore, choose what suits your lifestyle. But if, after reading this article, you’re still on the fence and still don’t know which to choose, you can speak to one of our experts for better advice and guidance.

About The Author:

Manny Brambila

Pool & Spa Expert

Manny has been in the Pool & Spa industry for over 15 years and is considered a pool, swim spa, & hot tub expert. He has been a Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO) since 2009 and worked 15 years in aquatic training and development for the largest pool chemical and customer care company. He also has been an outside consultant for the Pool and Spa industry in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles since 2018. In the past few years Manny has become Director of Operations for Epic Hot Tubs with a priority of providing customers with the most reliable information and best service possible.