Hot Tubs vs. Swim Spas: Which Should You Choose?

There’s nothing quite like coming home to your very own personal oasis, where you can kick back and relax by yourself or with your loved ones after a long day. If you’re looking to create a relaxing and enjoyable experience in your backyard, consider installing a hot tub or swim spa.

Both hot tubs and swim spas offer a great way to unwind after a long day, but they differ in so many ways. Deciding which one to choose ultimately depends on your lifestyle, needs, and preferences.

This article takes a closer look at hot tubs and swim spas, comparing their features, benefits, and costs to help you make an informed decision.

What Is A Hot Tub?

A hot tub is filled with hot aerated water. It’s equipped with powerful jets for massage hydrotherapy and is typically installed outdoors. Most luxury hot tubs for sale come in various sizes and sleek designs that can easily blend in with your outdoor space.

Hot tubs come in two types: built-in and portable. Built-in hot tubs are a luxurious addition to any backyard and are often professionally installed alongside a swimming pool. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, portable hot tubs, like Bullfrog hot tub A8 are a great choice. They offer the same benefits as built-in hot tubs but can be easily moved and set up without professional installation.

What Is A Swim Spa?

Unlike traditional hot tubs, swim spas are larger and allow you to swim in place against a water current. It offers the same fitness benefits as a traditional lap pool but with less space requirements.

High-quality swim spas offer the convenience of year-round swimming and fitness, all within the confines of a spa-like setting. They combine the benefits of water-based workouts with relaxation.

Hot Tubs vs. Swim Spas: A Detailed Comparison

While both hot tubs and swim spas are great additions to your home, it’s important to consider their unique benefits, disadvantages, and requirements. This detailed comparison can help you determine the best fit for your goals and lifestyle.

Space Requirement

Given their smaller size, hot tubs generally fit well into smaller areas, making them an excellent choice if you have limited space. Their standard size is seven feet square, compact and versatile, suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

In contrast, swim spas need more room due to their length, typically 12 to 24 feet. They require a solid, level surface for installation and enough space around them for maintenance and access.


Another crucial factor to consider is cost. Hot tubs tend to be less expensive upfront compared to swim spas. Their usual prices typically range from USD$5,000 to USD$24,000. However, the final price depends on the model, features, installation costs, and maintenance requirements.

While swim spas are generally more expensive, they offer greater functionality, as they can be used for both relaxation and fitness. The cost usually starts at USD$15,000. However, you can expect them to cost almost as much as hot tubs in terms of the maintenance and running expenses.

Installation Process

Typically, installing hot tubs is easier and cheaper, especially if they’re portable or above-ground models. They only need a sturdy, flat surface, and an electrical connection, so the setup is relatively straightforward.

Comparatively, swim spas are more complex to install due to their size and weight. They often require professional installation, potentially including groundwork, plumbing, and electrical work.

Energy Efficiency

Hot tubs are smaller and have less water to heat, generally making them more energy efficient. However, the running costs of a hot tub will depend on the frequency of use, temperature, and model efficiency.

Swim spas, though larger, can also be energy efficient. Modern swim spas often come with energy-saving features such as thermal covers and advanced heating systems. However, their larger size requires more water to heat, which could increase energy usage.

Personal Needs And Preferences

If your primary goal is stress relief, a hot tub makes a perfect choice. On the other hand, a swim spa makes a better option if you’re adding a home feature dedicated to swimming and other water fitness activities.


Hot tubs and swim spas are suitable for any climate. However, homeowners in warmer regions may prefer a hot tub to complement an existing swimming pool.

In contrast, swim spas are more popular in colder climates or regions with harsh winters. A swim spa makes a practical alternative to a traditional swimming pool since you can use it comfortably and efficiently year round.

Long-Term Maintenance

Both hot tubs and swim spas require regular cleaning and maintenance, including water treatment and component checks. They both have their respective lifespans, depending on the quality of the product and maintenance. However, some modern hot tub models have self-cleaning features, making them preferable for busy homeowners.

Which One Is The Better Option?

Hot tubs and swim spas have advantages and disadvantages. Every property owner should consider these factors to make the best selection. Based on the factors mentioned, a hot tub is suitable for a small yard, limited budget, and easy installation. In contrast, a swim spa is best if you have ample space and time for installation and are willing to spend extra for your fitness goals.