Are Swim Spas Heated? (Yes, but some are better than others)

With a hot tub, they are usually not large enough to be able to swim in, but a warm relaxing soak is nice. Many have heard of swim spas, but are swim spas heated?

I decided to look into it and here’s what I discovered:

A swim spa is like a compact pool for swimming, large enough to swim around in a bit or you can swim in place, but it still can produce heat similar to a hot tub. Some swim spas even have the ability to let you have a heated hot tub section and a separate area for swimming that isn’t directly heated.

But that only scratches the surface of swim spas.

What exactly are they? How much do they cost on your heating bikk compared to a hot tub? And are they truly the best of both worlds?

What they do is offer you the ability to swim against a current in place, helping you practice your strokes and other swimming abilities.

What is great about them, is not only can they double as a hot tub, but they also let you swim in them in one area. That way you can relax on one side and then swim on the other side.

Read on to learn more about swim spas.

Are Swim Spas hot or cold?

It depends on the kind of swim spa you decide to buy.

Like a hot tub, swim spas can be one unit and only have shared water, so it can either be hot or cold, but not both. However, some swim spas have separate sections for hot tubbing and swimming.

So you can have hot water on one side to relax in, and cold water on the other side to swim in.

They are still combined though, and this can be a great benefit for those that want a pool and a hot tub because a swim spa is a compact combination of the two.

Being the best of both worlds, for the active swimmer and causal hot tub user, a swim spa allows you to also have two separate units that are housed in one container.

So, you would have a separate unit for hot tubbing and a separate unit for swimming.

But they are still smaller than a regular pool is, so they would take up less space compared to a full-size pool. Most are larger than a hot tub, though, so do expect to need more room. They can be of great benefit to you and, with proper care, can last a lifetime.

Sometimes people have a swimming pool they’d like to enjoy heated.

But swimming pool heaters, unlike hot tub heaters, can be expensive. So if you have a pool and have ever wondered if you can use a hot tub heater to heat your pool, check out my recent article.

You can, although there are definite pros and cons to doing it. Just click that link to see them all on my site.

How long does it take to heat a swim spa?

Swim spas, much like hot tubs, need time to warm up all the way.

Depending on the temperature you have set; it can take a bit for the swim spa to get to your desired temperature. Since they are smaller than a pool, they do not take a day to heat up all the way, however, they can take at least 5-6 hours, depending on the size of the swim spa.

If you want to know how long a hot tub takes to heat up AND how to speed that up for either a hot tub or a swim spa, check out this recent article. A hot tub can take between 3-8 hours to heat up from scratch.

Why such a big range? There are several factors. Luckily, I get into all of them in that article, and they apply to swim spas too.

So just click that link to read it on my site.

Luckily, swim spas can heat the water much more efficiently compared to a large heated pool. But it is important to note that if you use a cover for your swim spa, it will significantly reduce the time it takes to heat it.

The cover keeps the heat inside of the spa, so it will warm up much faster compared to one of the same size without a cover on it.

So, make sure you have a cover for your swim spa, especially for keeping dirt and animals out of it and to help it heat up faster.

With a swim spa, the heater size also is a factor in how much time it will take it to heat up to your desired temperature.

The more powerful your heater, the less time it will take to heat up. But a more powerful heater will also cost you less on your electric bill.

How much does it cost to heat a swim spa?

Just like a hot tub, swim spas have many factors for how much they will increase your electric bill.

It takes electricity to heat your swim spa, so your bill could be a bit higher than you are used to with this new addition. And if you keep it running, which is usually recommended, then it can shoot up the bill.

The factors are as follows:

  • The climate you live in
  • How much energy costs per kilowatt in your area
  • If you use a cover for your swim spa
  • How large your swim spa is
  • If your swim spa well insulated

These factors can affect the cost to heat your swim spa and keep it running long term.

For hot tubs, the typical bill is somewhere around $20 or so. But with some swim spas being almost twice as large as a hot tub you may see an increase closer to $50 or more.

This can depend on the brand of swim spa you use since some are more energy-efficient than others.

Swim spas can be either hot or cold, but what about hot tubs?

If you want to know about using a hot tub without heat or how to make it cooler in the heat of summer, read this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Is a swim spa better than a pool?

Well, pools much larger than a swim spa. So they are great for a bunch of kids looking to burn energy in the summer by jumping, splashing, and having fun.

A swim spa, however, is more designed for someone wanting to swim laps but doesn’t have space for a large rectangular pool. After all, a swim spa typically has a swim jet to create a powerful current that you swim against.

That way you can swim laps in place and not need a long pool.

Pros of a swim spa over a pool:

  • A swim spa is a pool and hot tub, all in one, in a small space
  • You can relax in it and swim around in it, as well as heat it up!
  • Pools are expensive, whereas swim spas are less costly.
  • Swim spas are easier to take care of because they are not as large as a pool.
  • If you do not have a lot of space for a pool, a swim spa can be a better alternative because of its smaller size.
  • Installation for a swim spa is not as expensive as an in-ground pool’s construction.
  • Year-round use as opposed to seasonal
  • Can be used for boogie boarding (1 child at a time)

Pros of a pool over a swim spa:

  • Better for kids
  • Less expensive for an above-ground pool
  • Great for entertaining a large number of people

No matter what you get in; pool, hot tub, or swim spa, contact lenses and water can be deadly!

Luckily I break down exactly why, what happens if you do wear contacts in water, and some good solutions in this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can a swim spa be used as a hot tub?

The short answer is yes!

Swim spas are small pools with hot tub options in them.

Some have 1 section of water that you can use hot or cold. Others, like the Michael Phelps Momentum model by MasterSpa, have a hot tub section and a swimming section. They are housed together, but a wall in the water partially separates the 2 areas.

That style will be cheaper on your electricity bill since you aren’t trying to heat the whole thing. After all, the average swim spa is at least 15, if not almost 20 feet long; significantly bigger than a hot tub.

So, you can most definitely use your swim spa as a hot tub. Some swim spas, as mentioned above, also come with a separate water area for your heated hot tub!

So, you can have cold water on one side and hot tub temperature water on the other side. This is a great option, especially if you want the best of both worlds.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about whether swim spas are heated or not?

In the end, hot tubs are a great investment, as are pools. But depending on your needs, a swim spa can be the best of both worlds!

You can use the swim spa as a pool or as a hot tub, or both!

Use it with hot water in winter, cold water (or warm-ish water) in summer. Or get one that has a separate hot tub area and use both whenever you wish.

The best of both worlds comes from swim spas, and they let you have more room in your backyard compared to an in-ground pool. Not to mention the cost is a lot less and they are easier to take care of compared to pools.


Photos which require attribution:

Swim Spa by Mike On Maui is licensed under Public Domain

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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