What to Look For When Choosing a Swim Spa for Cold Climates

Everything you need to know about buying a swim spa for cold climates and ensuring it performs highly

Key takeaways: 

  • Insulation is a top priority. Opt for a spa that offers high-quality and all-around insulation. 
  • The outer cover’s quality will influence your spa's heat-trapping ability and energy efficiency in cold climates. 
  • Look for an automatic heating system to monitor the water. 
  • A heat distribution system will transfer waste heat into the water.

Winter is a nice time for staying indoors and cozying up by the fireplace. It’s also wonderful for winter sports and relaxing in a quality swim spa that can destress you, relax your muscles, and help you stay active. If you haven’t taken a soak in a hot water spa on a snowy winter day, you will definitely want to experience it.  

An ordinary spa will perform decently during winter, but, what if you could buy one that could withstand the cold and sometimes harsh weather of winter? When the climate gets colder, it will help to have a swim spa equipped with a set of internal and external features to handle the severe chill. What are the features you should look for when choosing a swim spa for cold climates? Let’s find out.  

The top things to look for in a cold-weather swim spa

Just like with other outdoor equipment, certain features help swim spas handle cold weather better. Let’s dive into what those are so you are well-prepared for winter with your spa. 

  • Insulation – A hard, quality, insulating thermal layer on a spa helps avoid any heat escaping. Certain swim spas have foam insulation; this level of coverage ensures maximum heat retention. A solid foam insulation system, like a Mylar-backed one, helps trap warmth during colder months. 

    High-quality units on the market use proper full foam insulation. The use of foam in the entire cavity between the shell and inside the surrounding cabinet helps trap more heat. Opt for a unit that is fully insulated all over to improve heat retention around the cabinet and shell.
  • Shell – Your swim spa's shell quality will also decide its ability to trap heat. A durable U.S.-made acrylic shell that is oven-cured retains heat better when insulated with quality materials than substandard plastic shells. Better heat retention also lowers your energy bill during winter. 
  • Heat-exchange system – The ability of the internal system to smartly retain all the motor heat in the tub during the cold gives it a significant performance boost. Certain swim spas use a heat lock technology. This technology uses the waste heat from the motor to warm up the water. The best part of this technology is that during summer, the same mechanism can release the heat to keep your spa cool. 
  • External cover – When it comes to winter, a quality cover is very important. Ensure your spa uses an insulated cover. Besides keeping all the outside elements from getting in, a proper cover shelters the spa, acting as insulation to prevent freeze damage. 

    When not in use, the cover traps heat and maximizes energy efficiency. A heavy-duty, well-insulated cover can minimize heat loss due to evaporation. A thick cover that provides a strong seal from the sides helps to prevent heat loss.
  • Filtration time – When buying a swim spa, you also want to investigate how long it takes to filter all of the water inside. The filtration time reflects on the unit’s energy efficiency. In colder regions, heating bills can be high, so the last thing you want is your tub adding to that cost. Opt for a model that takes less time, meaning it’s more energy-efficient. 
  • Automatic heating – A spa that can monitor and regulate the water temperature on its own is what you want to invest in. Sensors in the spa will activate the heater when the temperature drops below the default value. For instance, if it drops below 55° F, the freeze-protect system will activate the pump to circulate and reheat the water.
  • Heater power – A larger unit will take more time to heat cold water.  In this situation, the heater power can make a difference by reducing the number of hours it takes to warm the water to the right temperature. The ambient temperature and starting water temperature will also influence the time. 
  • Bottom seal – A solid bottom seal helps retain the warmth inside the cabinet. The bottom seal helps keep heat from escaping from below, and when the spa is on a concrete pad, it provides another layer of insulation from underneath. The material and style of the bottom layer will decide the amount of cold that gets into your spa during the winter months. 
  • Plumbing and pump system – A decent plumbing and pump system will decide how well your swim spa endures a chilly climate. You want to check if the pipes run outside the insulation, exposing it to the cold air. The lack of thermal insulation means the unit cools down very quickly. Plus, any leftover water in the pipes can cause permanent freeze damage. 
  • Warranty – If anything goes wrong with your swim spa, an extended warranty period on specific parts, such as jets, the shell, plumbing, frame, and others, will result in a repair or replacement and save the day during the winter season. A quality spa carries a good one-year worth of protection for parts and at least five years for the spa structure; some even offer lifetime warranties. 

Not just any swim spa

Taking a dip in a swim spa is truly a treat in the winter! You get to experience a warm escape, family time, exercise, and soothing relief for sore muscles. 

But not all swim spas are alike. If you’re buying one specifically for a cold climate, consider the tips above. 

Also, you can always reach out to us at Barefoot Spas for guidance. As a family-owned and operated company and one of America’s top hot tub and swim spa brands, we will treat you with care and support.

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