What Is A Pool Spa Combo? Benefits & FAQs

pool spa combo in backyard

You may hear this terminology “pool spa combo” from pool people and wonder what is a pool spa combo? Well, the pool spa combo is a pool and a spa hydraulically connected. This means the pool and spa do not have separate heating systems, disinfection systems, filtration systems or circulation systems. Instead, they share an equipment set.

How Does A Pool Spa Combo Work?

This means that for the most part, the spa and pool are running at the same temperature. Oftentimes the circulation between the pool and spa will manifest as a spillway from the spa to the pool. Sometimes it looks like there’s only a tiled separation wall between the two and the spa appears to be the same level as the pool. Typically when the pool and spa appear the same level the spa is actually about 1/2” higher than the pool. It’s slightly higher because of the spa mode.

Ways To Control Spa Mode

Spa mode is typically controlled by pushing a button on your automation system. These days, it can also be controlled using an app on your phone. Additionally, it can also be controlled by turning valves manually and adjusting the heater manually. We recommend using an automation system. Otherwise, you’re vulnerable to potential frustration if the person who usually turns the valves and adjusts the heater isn’t around.

During spa mode, the spa becomes hydraulically separate from the pool. If the spa and pool were totally level, the cold pool water would splash into your back as you sit in the spa. When you enter spa mode, water is drawn into the main drains in the spa and returned through the jets in the wall. Being hydraulically isolated from the pool allows the spa to be heated.

The typical pool spa combo heater is a 200,000 to 400,000 BTU propane or natural gas unit that will heat the spa to 104 degrees F within 20-45 minutes. When you are done using the spa, you can press a button and put the system back to pool/spa mode. Then the hot water will mix with the pool water again.

pool spa combo in backyard with trees and grass surrounding
Courtesy of Gibbons Pools

Benefits Of A Pool Spa Combo

The main benefit of a pool/spa combo is the tying together of the two systems. When you construct a pool and a spa separately, you are paying for two sets of equipment. That equipment includes two heaters, two pumps, two filters, two disinfection systems, and more.

Benefit #1: Maintenance Savings

When you maintain a separate spa and pool you need to test the water in both bodies of water. Furthermore, you then have to make adjustments for two different volumes. If you are hiring a service company to maintain your pool and spa, having a pool spa combo will reduce the amount you spend on service.

Benefit #2: Multiple Uses Of Spa

Building a pool spa combo can turn the spa into a water feature. When designed for it, you can even put fountain heads into the floor of the spa and turn it into a fountain for the summer when it’s not in use. You can also create a spillway from the spa to the pool and enjoy the peaceful sounds of running water without the added expense of a separate water feature.

Reasons Not To Have A Pool Spa Combo

Building a pool spa combo may seem like a no brainer for those considering a new swimming pool. There are some drawbacks but they are very few and far between. However, there are instances where it makes sense to separate the pool and spa.

Reason 1: Location Of Pool And Spa

For commercial applications, they must be separate. Although, even for some residential applications it makes sense to separate the pool and spa into separate bodies of water. The first reason you may not want a pool spa combo is if you want the spa in a completely different location than the pool.

Reason 2: Heavy Use Of Spa At Different Temperature

Another reason is if you want the ability to keep the spa heated to a specific temperature for days at a time. Those are the two main reasons we’ve seen people elect to not combine their pool and spa. In that case, when you build a pool and spa separate, your project will be more costly. Expect the spa budget to at least double, but possibly triple in cost.

One other drawback is that you have to wait for the spa to heat up whenever you want to use it. However, with a little planning and with today’s smartphone enabled automation systems, it’s easy to have the spa heated whenever you want to use it.

Undoubtedly, the budget is the biggest downside. Expect to spend at least $10,000 more to add a spa to your pool project, sometimes much more. Regardless of whether you add a spa, pool prices are high, so it usually makes sense to add an extra 10 – 20% onto the bill to maximize enjoyment.

Bottom Line

Pool spa combos are a great way to maximize your swim season when you live in colder climates. You can even keep the spa open year round when you winterize the pool. Even in warmer climates, there is no substitute for the healing properties of a nice hot spa to melt away your muscle aches at the end of a long day. We hope you are able to build a spa with your pool when the time comes and accurately assess whether a pool spa combo is right for you or not.