As swim spas become more and more popular, more and more swim spa manufacturers are popping up. Which swim spa manufacturer makes the best swim spas though? Today, we will look at a few of the most popular swim spa brands (Hydropool, Swim Life, Arctic, and Coast) in depth to see who makes the best swim spa. We will be comparing these swim spas in 3 main categories; the quality of their swim current, their running costs, and the level of maintenance required to keep them going.
Nobody likes to spend a ton of time maintaining their pool; after all, you bought a swim spa to relax and enjoy yourself, not to give yourself another thing to look after and clean. How much maintenance do these swim spa brands require? Let’s find out.
Swim Life, Arctic, and Coast
Swim Life, Arctic, and Coast swim spas share a very similar filtration system, known as a suction side filtration system. Commonly used in hot tubs, this system relies on the pumps to slowly suck water through the filters while also drawing in water from “suctions” installed near the bottom of the swim spa. This means that only around 50% of the water that enters the filtration system is actually filtered, the rest just passes through the pump and back out the jets.
While this system works relatively well in hot tubs, there is simply too much water in a swim spa for it all to be properly filtered in this way. The result is that you will likely need to watch your sanitizer levels much more closely. You will also likely need to add clarifying chemicals and regularly vacuum the bottom of the swim spa to keep the water clean.
Hydropool utilizes its industry-leading Self-Cleaning filtration system to filter the water in their swim spas. Rather than using suction-side filtration, self-cleaning uses pressure-side filtration common in inground and large commercial pools. Rather than pulling water through the filter, in this system water first enters a pre-filter basket, then goes through the pump and is finally forced through the filter. Not only is this faster, but it also means that 100% of the water that enters the filtration system actually gets filtered.
This revolutionary system means that all of the water in the swim spa is able to pass through the filter within 45 minutes. The built-in floor vacuum also sucks up and dirt and debris at the bottom of the swim spa, eliminating the need to manually vacuum the swim spa.
With their ultra-efficient Self-Cleaning filtration system, Hydropool swim spas are the clear winners when it comes to ease of maintenance.
One of the major benefits of owning a swim spa is that their running costs are significantly lower than other pools. There are three main reasons for this.
- Swim spas are compact. This means that they have less water to filter and heat than traditional above ground or inground pools. It also means that they are able to use smaller, more energy efficient pumps and heaters.
- Swim spas are insulated. Unlike other pools, swim spas have insulation that protects them from cold weather and helps to maintain their water temperature.
- Swim spa filtration is programmable. Unlike traditional pool pumps that need to be manually turned on and off, swim spa pumps can be set to automatically turn on and off throughout the day. This allows swim spa owners to set their pools to run during off-peak hours when energy rates are lower.
This isn’t to say that all swim spas are equally as energy efficient, however. While most swim spas are similarly sized, their insulation, pumps, and programming can vary quite a bit. How do our four brands stack up against one another? Let’s find out!
Hydropool swim spas come equipped with two layers of insulation; one around the shell of the swim spa to keep heat in the water and another around the outer cabinet and floor of the swim spa to protect the plumbing from harsh winter conditions, and use the waste heat produced by the pumps and heaters to further heat the water and increase energy efficiency.
Hydropool swim spas also use ultra-efficient swim pumps that are 26% more efficient than other swim pumps. They also utilize a much smaller filtration pump to run their Self-Cleaning filtration system, saving you more money.
Since their Self-Cleaning filtration is so efficient, Hydropool swim spas only need to run for 6-8 hours per day to keep the water clean and clear. They are highly programmable; allowing you to set the filtration to run during off-peak hours to further reduce your costs. If you won’t be using your swim spa for a few days, you can even set it to run in an ultra-efficient “economy” mode while you’re away, then automatically resume normal operation when you plan on using it again.
Swim Life swim spas are similarly insulated to Hydropools, with one exception. While they feature two layers of insulation, Swim Life swim spas do not insulate the floors of their swim spas. This allows heat to escape through the bottom of the swim spa.
The inefficient suction-side filtration system used by Swim Life also costs them when it comes to energy efficiency. Because this system is not able to clean the water efficiently, it is forced to run 24 hours per day in order to keep the water clear and safe to use. As you can imagine, this significantly increases its running costs.
Arctic and Coast
Like Swim Life, both Arctic and Coast swim spas use a suction-side filtration system. Both manufacturers also only use one layer of insulation; Arctic only insulating around the cabinet and floor while Coast only insulates the shell of the swim spa.
Hydropool’s complete 2 layer insulation and Self-Cleaning filtration system give their swim spas a big edge in terms of their overall energy costs.
Another major difference between the various swim spa manufacturers out there is in their swim current systems. When comparing current systems, there are four things we will look at:
- Current speed. You shouldn’t be able to easily out swim the current.
- The width of the current. If the current is too narrow, any side to side motion on your part will take you out of the current. This makes it very difficult to swim.
- The turbulence in the swim. Turbulence means that the current speed and intensity is always changing. This makes for a difficult, frustrating swimming experience.
- The current control system. If you can’t easily control the swim current, you may not be able to dial in a current speed that is comfortable for you to swim in.
Hydropool’s AquaTrainer swim spas offer one of the best swimming experiences in the industry. Their swim pumps are capable of delivering current speeds of up to 18km/h and their industry exclusive V-Twin jets spread this power out into a wide, deep and turbulence-free current.
V-Twin jets are wide-mouth jets that spread the swim current out over a wide area. They also draw extra water in from the back of the jet, “supercharging” the swim current with extra water. The inside of the V-Twin jets also features “swim fins” that smooth out the turbulence caused by the swim pumps. The result is a smooth, wide and powerful swim current.
Hydropool also leads the industry in current control systems. Their latest AquaPro control system not only allows you to change the strength of the swim current, it also has built-in programs that can automatically change the strength of the swim current at set intervals, like a treadmill. Their Waterwatch also allows you to analyze and track your performance over time.
Like Hydropool, Swim Life swim spas are able to generate a current of up to 18km/h. They also feature wide mouth jets with swim fins that spread out the current into a wide, relatively turbulence-free swimming experience.
Compared to the V-Twin system from Hydropool, however, the Swim Life swim jets still don’t quite measure up. Since they lack the ability to draw extra water in, the Swim Life jets do not produce quite the same flow rate as the V-Twin jets; making them feel a little less powerful.
Swim Life swim spas also lack the control systems that Hydropool offers. Their current controls are limited to a simple manual “up-down button” system.
The weakest point of Arctic swim spas is their current system. The use simple rounded hot tub jets which are only powered by one swim pump (Hydropool and Swim Life both use 2 pumps in their swim systems). Rounded jets produce are meant for targeted massage and therefore produce a very narrow, frustrating current. Since they do not have swim fins, these jets also produce a very turbulent swim.
Arctic’s swim control systems are also very basic; simple manual knobs that are typically found in hot tubs. These knobs are only able to adjust the current by about 30%, making it difficult or impossible to adjust the current to your desired speed.
To make up for the lack of power and control in their swim systems, Arctic includes a “swim tether” system with their swim spas. This amounts to a large rubber band that you attach around your waist to pull you back so you don’t out swim the current.
The swim system in Coast swim spas are much the same as Arctic’s, with one exception. Coast swim spas use wide “river” jets rather than the round jets that Arctic use. While these jets do spread out the current over a wider area than a round jet, they lack swim fins. This means that they still produce a turbulent, frustrating swim.
Although Swim Ways comes close to Hydropool in some respects, the V-Twin jets and current control systems mean that Hydropool swim spas still produce the best swimming experience of the bunch.
WHICH SWIM SPA BRAND IS BEST?
As you can see, Hydropool Swim Spas leads the industry in all 3 of these important categories. There is a very good reason for this. Hydropool has been manufacturing swim spas for much, much longer than either Swim Life, Arctic or Coast have.
Swim spas have been around for close to 30 years, but have only really become popular in the last 5 years. Hydropool was one of the first manufacturers of swim spas and have been perfecting their technology and build quality for over 20 years. Other manufacturers like Swim Life, Arctic and Coast have only been making swim spas for a few years and are having to play catch up with the more established swim spa manufacturers like Hydropool.
Hydropool has over 20 years of research and development in their swim spas, having learned lessons years ago that other manufacturers are only now beginning to understand. For this reason, Hydropool produces swim spas that are far more advanced in both design, features and build quality.