Here’s what you need to know about spool pools


When used in the spa and swimming pool trade, the term “spool” is a portmanteau. It’s a combination of two words that creates a hybrid meaning. The term “spool” can be used to refer to a water feature with a similar appearance to a hot tub, but with powerful jets that produce a strong current against which you are able swim. Manufacturers don’t use the term, as they often refer to these products as “swimspas”.

Prefabricated above-ground features are the most common type of spools and swim spas. However, you can have an inground spool built if your yard is too small for a larger in-ground pool. You can place above-ground spools on large concrete slabs or indoors in a basement, garage or other large space. A spool measures approximately 10 to 20 feet in length and 6 to 8 inches wide. It is smaller than an inground swimming pool, but twice the size of an average spa.

How Spools Work

The spools produce current using directional jets, which look similar to those used in a hot tub to produce the bubbly effect. These jets can be stronger and are directed in a way that creates strong currents in the water. This allows you to swim or jog.

Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa, also known as MP Signature by Master Spas, is one of the most popular brands. There are a variety of models in this line, with capacities ranging from 2,000 to 2400 gallons. The spools come in two sections. One is a separate sitting area for spa relaxation, and the other is a larger 50-inch deep swim chamber. The overall dimensions range from 8 by 18 to 8 to 20 feet. Although some swim spas have the same air jets as standard spas, the propeller design creates a current that is more realistic. To enhance relaxation, these spools have standard jets.

Workout in a Spool

A spool is not like a swimming pool. It has jets that create a strong current. You can get a great workout in a small space, as you can swim in one place. You should keep the temperature of a swimming pool low for exercise. It can become uncomfortable and cause you to tire faster if it is too warm. You might consider using the pool for exercise first, then heating it up in the evening or morning to soothe sore muscles.

Some models have a partition which allows one person to use the spa as a hot bathtub while another person can swim laps in the cooler part of the pool.

Advantages and disadvantages

Although spools have some of the same benefits as hot tubs and swimming pools, they also have some drawbacks.

  • It is more affordable than a full-sized pool. Ideal for small yards. Adjustable temperature. Provides a great workout. Installation is quick.
  • A full-sized pool is more affordable than a smaller one
  • Perfect for small yards
  • Can it be installed indoors?
  • In mild climates, can be used all year
  • Good workouts
  • Installation is quite quick
  • Can be used for spa, pool or both
  • It is easier to maintain than a swimming pool
  • A smaller pool has less real estate value than a larger one.
  • A full-sized pool has a lower real estate value than a smaller one.
  • Limitation on the number of users
  • If you are outside, fencing may be required for zoning ordinances
  • In colder climates, heating and electricity costs can be high.

Spool costs

A fully functional spa with its own spa and swimming area is available for as low as $10,000. The Master Spa’s largest Michael Phelps spool costs $25,000, but this doesn’t include any ongoing maintenance costs. A fiberglass or acrylic spa can cost homeowners as much as $50,000, including delivery, setup, and installation.

According to national figures, a medium-sized prefabricated spa costs around $22,000 plus the installation cost which can easily run into the thousands. A swim spa is a great option for those who want to have both a pool and a spa in one place, as it’s less expensive than a fiberglass or vinyl inground pool that costs around $60,000.

Before making a commitment

A spool or swim spa sounds like it has everything, but not everyone can afford one. You can take one to a friend’s or family member’s home for a “test drive”, or you can try it out at a local spa retailer before purchasing one. You should ensure that the current is not too strong or unpleasant.

You may discover that you cannot live without a swimming pool large enough to entertain large groups or swim laps in. You may decide that a hot tub is all you need to relax and get massage jets for your muscles, a few times per week. It takes time to consider all aspects of the process before you make the plunge and become a proud owner of a spool.

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