Can a Hot Tub Also Be a Pool?

If you want to install a hot tub, but your kids want a pool, you might find yourself in a tough spot. Regardless of why you’re being pulled in two directions, you need to find the middle way. In this case, it is to get a hot tub that doubles as a pool. Is this possible, though?

A hot tub can also be a pool if it is big enough. Often you need to get a hot tub custom-made to accommodate the size specification. However, it is possible, and many people have hot tubs in which they swim.

In this article, we will cover three options within two broad categories. Knowing this will help you save $10,000+ in initial costs and $200 to $500 in monthly heating charges. The options we will discuss in this post are:

  • Swim Spas – These are small pools designed at a spa’s depth.  
  • Heating-fitted Plunge Pools – These pools allow in-place swimming and can have tub-type seating
  • Extra-Large Hot tubs – These are custom-made and are the cheapest option, but have their own drawbacks

Plunge Pool vs. Swimming Pool

When looking at hot tub options that can double as pools, it is crucial to consider the type of pool you want. There are two pool categories that are available in this context. The first is a plunge pool, and the second is a swimming pool.

It is easier to use a hot tub as a plunge pool than it is to use one as a swimming pool. This is because plunge pools don’t need to have as wide an area. If you get a big enough tub and turn its heating off, you have a plunge pool. In case you want a swimming pool, you need to get a swim spa with a 152 square feet area. A swim spa has all the features of a hot tub but has enough length to allow the average adult to swim a lap.

Plunge pools have a less strict definition. Kids and teenagers might be able to swim in a hot tub plunge pool, but adults can barely lie down in some of them. Knowing which kind of pool you want is essential for your hot tub choice. But your budget can also influence your choices.

The average swim spa can cost $30,000, while a luxury hot tub can cost over $13,000. You can expect to save a minimum of $17,000 initially when you choose a hot tub that doubles as a plunge pool instead of the one you can use to swim laps.

But that’s not the only time you save money. You also save on the heating bill because less volume of water needs to be heated up in a smaller area. According to pool heater usage statistics and corresponding electric prices, you can save upwards of $200 per month on heating by going for a large hot tub instead of a swim spa.

Ultimately, the choice is yours and should be based on what you truly want. If you want to have your friends over once a month for a pool party, you might need a swim spa. But if you want a pool for quality family time, then going with a plunge pool makes more sense.

Top Hot Tubs That Double as Swimming Pools

Having established some background information regarding hot tub plunge pools and swim spas, let’s compare the best in each category. Let’s get started with a hot tub that can be used as a swimming pool.

PDC Spas’ Swim Spa options are the best hot tubs in which you can swim. They come with enough customization choices to fit different budgets and design requirements. With 14 different swim spas, you get template-wet choices that go along with your home’s exterior aesthetic.

Pros of PDC Swim Spas

  • Plenty of aesthetic and functional options – If you care about how guests perceive your home, this aspect has a lot of value. 
  • The spas look more expensive than they are – This can have social value, but there is no tangible value if your family doesn’t have people over very often
  • The spa design can fit modern homes and cottage-style mansions, and farmhouses, too – Visual appeal and cohesion aren’t beneficial just for their show-off value. Having a pleasant-looking hot tub feels good to the occupants of the house as well.
  • Efficient heating prevents electricity wastage – This is by far the most tangible benefit of these swim spas, though it is unclear how long it can take for the heating bill reduction to cover the cost of the spa.

Cons of PDC Swim Spas

  • Are more expensive than the average swim spa – These swim spas are not for those on a tight or even a semi-tight budget. 
  • They can’t be installed by the average handyman and require expert spa installers – While the manufacturer offers installation, it is impractical to expect delivery and installation in remote areas. 

What separated PDC swim spas from many other products within the category is the design and efficiency. Heating efficiency is very important for the hot tub aspect of the spa. If you’re in a colder climate, cheaper heating can be quite lucrative. But if you’re in an average climate and can swim in the water at an average temperature, you might want to install a longer above-ground pool.

Above ground, pools can be resold more easily than a swim spa because a bulk of the cost is not in the spa installation. With swim spas, the installation cost is sunk once the product is in its place. After that, you might have to pay again for the safe removal of the spa surround and the tub.

The post-use value of the PDC swim spas is in how they reflect on the house value. While swimming pools don’t appreciate a house enough to cover their acquisition and installation costs, swim spas offer a break-even bump to the house value as long as the house is 9 times higher in cost than the spa. 

If you spend $45,000 to get a swim spa and your hour is $405,000+ in value, you can command an additional $45,000 in good neighborhoods. Still, there is no guarantee that you’ll recoup the amount you spend on a swim spa.

Top Hot Tubs That Double as Plunge Pools

If you’re not interested in a spa that accommodates mini-lap swimming, you’ll need to simply consider really big hot tubs. The biggest one in your budget should be the one to buy as long as it is backed by an authentic brand. The less budget-conscious choice is to get an above-ground plunge pool and have it fitted with heating. 

This is still a wallet-smart choice and can allow in-place swimming. Endless Pools’ plunge pools are the best hot tub solutions for a quick plunge. Request the company to your plunge pool with a heat pump, and you have yourself a hot tub that doubles as a plunge pool.

The company also offers templated plunge pool and hot tub combos. These are as expensive as the standard swim spa but reduce the heating costs significantly. The plunge pool can remain at its natural temperature while the heating can be focused on the hot tub.

Pros of Endless Pools Heated Plunge Pools

  • Cheaper than larger swim spas – You can expect to save $5000 on average by choosing the cheapest option in this category. 
  • Look great and can sit above ground – Above-ground pools don’t look as beautiful, but Endless Pools makes ones that are very visually appealing.
  • Installation costs are lower with higher post-use value – This is the most valuable advantage of endless pools heated plunge pools because the above-ground options can be re-sold more conveniently. It is also possible to take your tub with you if you move homes.

Cons of Endless Pools Heated Plunge Pool

  • Not in templated designs, so you have to pay higher for customization – Still, this higher rate comes out lower than the average swim spa 
  • While cheaper than larger swim spas, they’re still pretty expensive – Heated plunge pools are definitely not for those on a tight budget. But they fit medium-tight budgets.

The alternative is to get a very large hot tub. This choice might not be very aesthetic and might look tacky. If your backyard isn’t open to friends or friends of family, then this is a much smarter choice. It is also a good option if you have friends over, but they aren’t the type to deconstruct the feng-shui and color schemes of different decor items in your home.

Larger hot tubs need to be placed a good distance away from your home. Which means it sits near the boundary of your backyard. This creates sun-cover and dust-cover requirements, which can be expensive. Still, a hot tub with a small gazebo is cheaper than a swim spa.

Final Thoughts

A hot tub doesn’t have to be small. If you are smart about customization, you can get a hot pool that can double as a plunge pool or even a mini-swimming pool.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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