swim spa vs pool

While swim spas and swimming pools might be purchased for the same reasons, they are world’s apart when it comes to their designs and available features.

Understanding the differences between the two can stop you from making a big investment that you might regret later down the line. 

With all of the benefits of in-ground pools, swim spas require much less hassle.

If you’re stuck between deciding on a regular pool and a swim spa, we’ve got a few things laid out below for you to consider!


Lap Pool Vs Swim Spa

Year-Round Use

To swim in your pool, you’re going to need to consider the weather outside.

Swim season is fairly short. You can’t really swim during the winter unless you have your pool heated.

Heated pools, however, can add a large chunk to the overall cost, which you might not want to incur.

Swim spas are designed for year-round use, no matter what kind of climate you reside in.

With full-foam insulation, these self-contained units are made to retain heat.

With built-in heaters and easy-to-use controls, you can set your water to the desired temperature and enjoy it any time!

Space Requirements

You’ll need to consider the space you have for both, though, with pools, you need to consider having the proper clearance. This can add anywhere from six to ten feet to the overall size of your pool. This is why many people end up adding decks or patios to complement their pools and take advantage of the space.

Swim spas typically need a three-foot clearance on each side. You’ll need to consider leaving space for the maintenance area as well, as you’ll need to perform periodic maintenance checks. Lastly, you’ll need to consider the outlets in your backyard, unlike you would with a pool. You need to make sure that you have the proper electrical outlet near your swim spa, as well as water access.

Installation Costs

When compared to large and luxurious options, the cost of a small, traditional lap pool doesn’t seem that frightening. With that said, pools, on average, cost around $43,800. Of course, that price is simply an average. Depending on the types of materials that you use, the lighting and heat options that you choose to install, and the overall size, you could easily end up spending over $100,000.

Swim spa installation prices are pretty straightforward. You end up spending as much as the unit and added features cost. Different models come with different features, including various swim currents, Bluetooth control, LED lighting, additional seating, and more. You can expect to spend anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 on swim spa installation, making them less expensive on average,

Running Costs

Beyond the installation costs, you will also want to consider how much it will cost you to run your chosen swimming spa or pool. Traditional pools require large pumps to keep the water moving. The larger the pumps, the more energy you’ll need to use. 

Running a traditional lap pool will typically cost anywhere from $2 to $3 per day. If you want to heat your pool, you can expect to spend a lot more. Once the heat of the summer begins to die down, your heating bills will skyrocket, leaving you with several hundred dollars more per month. 

With built-in insulation and small swim tanks, swim spas are far more energy-efficient. You can run the pumps and heater on an average swim spa for around $1 to $3 per day depending on the climate. Essentially, you could spend less than half of the money you would spend on a pool when you buy a swim spa!

A lap pool typically longer and narrower in design, though it really depends on how you choose to build yours.

On average, backyard pools run anywhere from eight to ten feet wide.

If you’re looking to exercise in your backyard pool, you’re going to want to make it a bit longer.

As for the other features, you’re going to need to work closely with your contractor. 

Are you going to want steps? Do you want to add additional tilework for added aesthetic? Are you in need of a grab rail to get in? You could even add a spa that integrates with your pool as well!

Swim spas come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for one that is ideal for swimming, you’ll want to find one that sits between 15 and 19 feet in length. There are numerous lighting options to choose from and you often have the choice between a variety of colors for your skirting and acrylic. 


Pools are needy. You need to provide them with maintenance almost every week to keep them in good condition.

This means adding all of the necessary chemicals, removing floating debris, brushing the surface to reduce the change of algae growth, and vacuuming the pool bottom to get rid of sunken debris.

Swim spa owners don’t need to worry about maintenance nearly as much. There is a much smaller surface area to work with compared to a standard pool.

The filtration system in your typical swim spa can filter out floating debris that sits atop the water. 

Swim spas often use acrylic surface materials, which are anti-microbial. This gets rid of the need for brushing altogether!

You could even opt for a swim spa that comes with an included floor vacuum! Essentially, all you need to do to maintain a swim spa is add a few chemicals to the water and you’re good to go! 

Fitness and Entertainment

One of the main reasons people install swimming pools in their backyards is that they provide additional entertainment in the home. On the other hand, people purchase pools strictly for fitness reasons.

The bigger your swimming pool is, the more people you can entertain. Whether you have a really large family or you are planning on having tons of guests over, having a large pool is a practical choice. Of course, if you have a small family, you don’t need to worry about size as much. Even the smallest pools and swim spas can hold around four people. 

Now if you’re main concern is fitness, this is where swim spas take the cake. With built-in active currents, you can set a consistent current for yourself based on your skill level and swim against it for optimal exercise. Optimizing fitness in a pool setting means getting a large, rectangular pool that offers tons of space for extra strokes.

Attempting to exercise in a tiny backyard pool can be a hassle, as you’ll constantly hit the walls on either side, having to turn around again and again.

Final Verdict – Should I Get a Swim Spa or a Swimming Pool?

We’re beginning to see more and more prospective pool owners purchase swim spas these days. Compared to swimming pools, swimming spas offer a lower installation and maintenance cost, are much easier to install and maintain (all you need is a good concrete pad or something similar), and they get rid of the idea of “swimming season” thanks to their heated components.

Plus, they offer all of the benefits of swimming, as well as the benefits of traditional hot tub models. Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each by referring to our guide before making your purchase! Good luck and happy swimming!

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