About the author
Nick Clamp is the Editor-in-Chief at WhatSwimSpa?
The one decision that every swim spa buyer will have to make is whether to purchase a ‘Single Chamber’ model with a single body of water, or a ‘Dual Chamber’ model with two separate areas with individual temperature controls to separate the swim chamber from the hot tub seats and spa hydrotherapy jets. WhatSwimSpa? Editor-in-Chief Nick Clamp explains the merits of each option.
When it comes to choosing the interior layout of your dream swim spa, only a test swim will enable you and your family to truly decide which swim spa is right for you and your swimming styles and abilities. Yet many consumers neglect this important step before making a purchasing decision.
Leading manufacturers now produce a wide array of models with single chamber and dual chamber designs, so it is up to the owners to ensure that the layout is suitable for both their swimming and exercise needs, and their pre-swim warm up and post-swim hydrotherapeutic relaxation.
By consulting knowledgeable staff at a professional dealership and trying out a selection of swim spas ahead of any purchase decision, you’ll be able to decide which option suits your needs best.
In single-chamber swim spas, as the term implies, both the swimming area and any moulded cool-down hydrotherapy seats are contained in the same single body of water. This has the cost advantage of allowing one single set of circulation, filtration, heating and treatment equipment to service the entire product, with power and flow being able to be diverted between the hydrotherapy seats and the swim jets and combinations of the two.
For those looking for a compact footprint, single chamber models are probably the option of choice as they start at around 12 feet long (and even smaller for party spa/swim spa models that cater for small children to swim in). Some of the best swim experiences can be found in single chamber models, as their designs are not compromised by trying to fit in extra hydrotherapy seats. However, many single chamber models do include moulded spa seating at the opposite end to the swim jets, for swimmers to enjoy a post-swim hydrotherapy massage.
The downside to single chamber models is that with one body of water, they can only be maintained at one uniform temperature at any time. A temperature cool enough to swim in (25°C – 29°C) may feel too chilly to many for hot tub bathing; and, conversely, temperatures warm enough for hot tub bathing (36°C – 39°C) may feel uncomfortably hot when swimming.
The solution to this problem is to raise the temperature of the entire body of water when you are using the swim spa for relaxation with family and friends (especially in winter) and then lower it again when you want a more conventional swim temperature. Note that this temperature adjustment can take many hours so those looking for a pool for hot tub hydrotherapy would be better placed either purchasing a dual chamber model or a single chamber swim spa and a separate hot tub.
In dual-chamber swim spas, the swimming area and hot tub are two separate and self-contained bodies of water, with their own separate sets of equipment and heating. This offers the advantage of being able to maintain both bodies of water at the ideal temperatures for swimming and hot tub bathing respectively, and for power to go to the hot tub seats without compromising the power at the swim jets.
As the hot tub chamber is part of the integral moulding, it is easy to move from the swim chamber to the hot tub section, and for families that want to use both sections at the same time, those enjoying a relaxing time in the hot tub won’t be disrupted by the splashing and turbulent water created by whoever is swimming in the swim chamber.
The downside with dual-chamber swim spas is that you can expect to pay considerably more than an equivalent sized single-chamber product due to the extra tooling, equipment, plumbing, controls and labour entailed. They are also typically longer than single chamber models, starting at around 16 feet and upwards.
Due to the nature of the electrical setup, a larger electrical supply will also be required to cater for the demands of two sets of pumps and heaters.
If garden space permits, a good alternative solution is to buy a single chamber swim spa that suits your swimming abilities perfectly and then purchase a separate hot tub. So when your swim workout is done, simply hop across to your separate hot tub that can be positioned nearby for convenience.
As there are literally hundreds of hot tub models available, this means that you won’t be making compromises in either element of your lifestyle. Plus, you should be able to purchase a good single chamber swim spa and a good quality hot tub for a similar budget to a dual chamber swim spa. For the best independent advice on the latest hot tubs, you can request a free copy of our sister magazine WhatSpa? by visiting whatspa.co.uk.
The best way to make an informed choice is to decide what the main purpose or usage patterns will be for your chosen swim spa. If you will spend the majority of your time doing swimming workouts at cooler water temperatures, a dedicated single chamber model is probably the option of choice. However, if you foresee that you will want to spend more time relaxing and splashing around at warmer water temperatures, a dual chamber model may be more beneficial, as you won’t be constantly adjusting the temperatures when you want to enjoy the hot tub experience. If you want a large party pool that can be used all-year-round, there are single chamber models with plenty of bench style seats that can accommodate lots of bathers in a seated position, so bear these models in mind too in this scenario. Either way, for your own peace of mind, we would recommend trying both types of models so that you can judge for yourself the relative merits. Also try some single chamber swim spas and separate hot tubs as pretty much all swim spa retailers also offer hot tubs, and should have them heated and ready to try.
Also, don’t be tempted to buy the same model as your pals or family members, as it is unlikely that your family will have similar swimming needs and abilities to theirs. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to the question of ‘single chamber v dual chamber’. But whatever you choose after wet testing, it will definitely be a swim spa model that ‘feels right’ to you and your loved ones; and you will inevitably avoid making the costly mistake of buying a swim spa that is not fit for the purpose you intended.
To find the latest advice and information on selecting your swim spa retailer, request your FREE copy of the latest edition of WhatSwimSpa? As well as the latest advice, you can also view the best swim spas across every price range with the WhatSwimSpa? Best Buy Awards.
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