15 Key Differences Between the Best and Worst Swim Spas

Know the differences between the best and worst swim spas so you don’t end up with a dud 

Key takeaways on the differences between the best and worst swim spas:  

  • Know the insulation type used in a swim spa.
  • Check the top and outer protective covers.
  • Quality swim spas have innovative automatic heating and heat transfer systems that inexpensive models don't. 
  • Find out the warranty period on a unit. 

First-time swim spa buyers often make the mistake of purchasing inferior units. These spas can start degrading in months, sprouting leaks and having malfunctions, glitches, and other issues. Where did they go wrong? Unfortunately, they invested their money in a mediocre to low-quality swim spa.

When buying a product like this, you cannot overlook its strengths and weaknesses. Devote some time to understanding what features make a swim spa high quality. The best and worst swim spas on the market will have specific differences. We will walk you through these key differences so you don’t end up with a lemon. 

The main differences between the best and worst swim spas

What differentiates a high-quality swim spa from a lower-quality model? You might think it’s all about price, but it’s not – you can get a great quality model for a reasonable investment. Here are 15 differences between the best and worst swim spas so you can get your money’s worth. 

  1. Insulation – A swim spa that uses full-foam insulation on all sides performs better with heat retention and energy efficiency. Low-grade swim spas, due to the absence of proper foam insulation, don't lock in heat as well. The water loses heat, making the heater work harder, resulting in more power consumption.
  1. Ozonator – Not all swim spas have a built-in ozone sanitization system that filters and purifies the water. This process kills microorganisms, eliminates organic materials, and oxidizes contaminants to clean your water. Plus, it reduces the amount of chlorine and bromine needed, saving you money each month. Minimal chlorine usage means less corrosion damage to the internal systems. 
  1. Durable cover – A good cover is essential to trap heat, protect the spa from sun rays, shield it from outside debris, improve energy efficiency, and extend the life of the unit. Unfortunately, low-quality spas don't have high-density, thick covers. This lack of coverage leads to water evaporation unit deterioration over time. 
  1. External protection – An insulated hard cover with a thermal layered, heavy-duty cabinet helps to lock in heat and keeps energy bills to a bare minimum. Inferior swim spas that have a low-grade plastic covering lack the ability to trap heat. Buyers must check if the model has a thick, hardwood cover to lock in heat and prevent any cold air from getting inside in winter. 
  1. Circulation pump – Check if the swim spa you intend to purchase has a separate circulation pump. Unlike cheaper spas that offer two-speed pumps, these are generally only available in premium spas. A circulation pump offers greater energy efficiency. Plus, they are much quieter and clean the water better than two-speed pumps. 
  1. Pump heating – The best swim spas can redirect all the heat dissipated by the pump into the water during the winter season. This helps to conserve heat and minimize energy bills. Plus, the same system can eject heat during summers. Low-quality units cannot transfer or reflect waste heat into the water. 
  1. Spa base – A swim spa loses heat from all around, including the base. Thus, it needs one that is insulated and retains heat on the inside. Good quality spas have such a feature; a sub-standard spa may not. A pan-sealed bottom in a model will dissipate less heat, conserve more energy, and reduce your power bills. 
  1. Jet placement – Many people love to use their swim spa for hydrotherapy. In that case, the jets make a colossal difference. Simply having more jets doesn't mean it provides the best hydrotherapy. The spa must have a variety of jets of different strengths, strategically placed to target body areas. Too many tiny water or air jets in mediocre models don't give the best experience. 
  1. Jet current – The jet system must produce a strong, consistent flow of water. Obstructed, low-pressure water currents from the jets will not provide the same soothing and relaxing sensation. The jet water should be as turbulence-free as possible. Generally, in low-quality swim spas, the water isn't as smooth and powerful. 
  1. Shell material – A quality, U.S.-made, antimicrobial acrylic shell is far superior to anything else on the market. A premium swim spa will have a shell with all of these features. An acrylic shell traps heat better, is more energy-efficient, is durable, and is better-looking. Also, great spas have more resin applied to the shell. Cheaper spas may have a plastic shell that isn't as good. 
  1. Shell design – The internal shell design makes a difference as well. A swim spa with a deep, wide channel with no protruding seats or steps allows for an open swim with a smoother water flow. Also, the shell design must be such that it produces little to no backsplash to keep the swimmer in the swim lane at all times. 
  1. Warranty – Always check the warranty and after-sales service on a purchase. The shell structure, frame, and internal parts should all be covered under the warranty. Only buy from a brand that offers to fix any defect that occurs on your model. Most good swim spas have a structural warranty of at least five years and one year on their parts. Low-quality, generic spas usually only offer limited warranties. 
  1. Smart heating – A high-quality swim spa will have an internal heating system with sensors to detect a drop in temperature. If the temperature falls below a certain level, the heating supply instantly starts heating the water without the need for any manual intervention. In winter, this feature can prevent freeze damage.
  1. Filtration power – Second-rate units take longer to drain and filter out all of the water. This not only costs time but increases energy consumption. All of the heavy dirt may get left behind on the floor, which you'd have to remove manually. Quality spas do a much better job draining and refilling themselves.  
  1. Secondary benefits – High-quality models offer noiseless operations for peace and quiet. Furthermore, they can have ice buckets, stereos, lighting, glass holders, ergonomic seats, and other exciting features that make the experience so much more enjoyable. These may seem insignificant at first, but this is what separates an average swim spa from a premium one.

There you have it; the 15 key differences between the best and worst swim spas on the market. Purchasing a swim spa is an amazing investment, so taking a little time to do your due diligence before buying is pertinent. It will make all the difference between luxuriating in a secure, sturdy, fun model or kicking one that’s blown a fuse after six months.  

Barefoot Spas is your source for high-quality swim spas 

Knowing how to separate a good swim spa from a poor-quality one is easier with the tips above. Every buyer should know what they’re looking for to avoid ending up with a dud. Knowing these important variations will ensure you’re happy with your purchase.

Barefoot Spas is one of America's leading hot tub and swim spa brands. Manufactured in Chesterfield, Virginia, our diverse product line is sure to have the perfect spa or swim spa to meet your family’s needs and budget. If you have any questions on what to look for when buying a model, contact us today.

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