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Swim spas?

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Hi Savoirflair

I appreciate that you may feel I cannot give you an unbiased and objective opinion but rest assured I am more than happy to do so.   I hope also that if you look at any previous postings of mine you will understand that this will be the case.

If you want to know specific questions or have concerns that need addressing then let me know through this forum or drop me a PM or email and I will try to provide some information to help you.   Also and only if you like, if you send me your email address through a PM or email then I will email you back a none brand specific Swim Spa fact sheet and a pre-installation guide that can answer many questions potential purchasers have.

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Having had the opportunity to respond to Savoirflair, I thought it may helps others too if I posted the things to think about here: -


  • There are two types of swim spas available – one with the spa end separated from the swim end and one where the water volume is combined; and then you will find different levels of specification.


  • Swim spas with separate ends are better and more expensive because they will have two separate sets of controls, filters, heaters etc.   The benefit is that you can have your spa end at 38 to 40 degrees, for example, which is great for lounging in but too hot for swimming in, so by having separate controls you can have your swim water at 28 degrees.


  • When you have a swim spa with one combined/total volume of water you lose this benefit and it is difficult to manage the heating up and cooling down process to make it comfortable for use.


  • There are also two types of build on the market – one where the cabinet is fully foam filled apart from a small compartment where the equipment is located and the other will have a fully open cabinet with the equipment and pipes exposed.


  • Fully foamed offer great insulation qualities but the difference between the two types in terms of energy efficiency is small.   California has the most stringent controls on energy saving and environmental impact on all consumer products in the world and spas and swim spas of both types are sold there, meeting the regulations as required.


  • Fully foamed use the foam as a support for the shell and the cabinet but this breaks down over time (3 years and onwards) and you will have 8 to 10 tonnes of unsupported water at some point in time.


  • You always intend to sell products without leaks but sometimes it can occur.   When you can find the leak and repair it with ease it is cheaper but sadly, with foam filled you have to find the leak by finding a damp patch of foam (sponge like), hacking through it not knowing where the pipes are and risking further issues, repair the leak and then use your spa with part of the shell and cabinet support hacked away.    Typically, a leak should be about an hour to repair but with foam filled it will be a day - and there is a cost for that.


  • Fully foamed products will also harbour insects, rodents, snakes etc that burrow in for warmth to nest.   Additionally, if you have an air blower, the foamed products have to have an air grill to the outside to feed the blower and this will be cold air, whereas the fully open will draw on air heated within the confines of the spa from the motors and heater elements.   The air grill is where insects etc will get in.


  • As far as working parts go, most spas regardless of construction and type will be robust enough to do the job they are asked to do and there is little to choose between them.   Things can go wrong of course and I have known of a spa company that has bought a batch of pumps that have failed because their regular supplier has had a glitch in production.   Generally though, product from the US/Canada and Europe is tried and tested.   If you buy from the former eastern bloc where components are bought in and assembled or China where they develop their own way of things, research what you are buying – don’t just assume for example, that if you buy a Czech made spa that it is European; it may be built with Chinese parts.   This is not to deride product from these sources but you need to know what you are getting.


  • Electrical requirements need to be thought about and the minimum for a swim spa is that they are hard wired into the fuse board/tableau with their own trip switch protected by an RCD and that they should have an isolator about two metres from the spa but no closer.   Depending on the model it will be between 20 and 32 amps – the higher the spec the higher the demand, so check with your supplier.   Swim spas are not plug and play.   Cable sizing depends on the length of the cable run and demand so you will need a qualified electrician to help with the installation (qualified to protect your warranty and more important, you).


  • Fill and drain – fill with a standard garden hose (run for 20 seconds to get rid of standing water).   Drainage is through a valve located near the base of a swim spa generally and is gravity fed making it a slow process.    Sometimes it is better to use a submersible pump.   If you are putting a swim spa in a pit you need to think about where this gravity fed water or other water ingress (rain etc) is going to go, so unless you provide a means of drainage to the pit you will need a sump with a pump to extract the water.   If you do not drain the pit water will build up and potentially damage equipment, not to mention the water borne infestation issues.   Decking from the ground up and around is a better solution.    You also need to think about where water is going to drain to; it will contain chemicals as with pool water.


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