Can a Hot Tub Be Used as a Pool?

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

Published May 15, 2024

“Can a hot tub be used as a pool?” is one of the many “that depends” questions that hot tub retailers get asked.

We are asked it frequently at Hydropool, and generally what some customers mean is “Can I work out in my hot tub.” Others want to use their hot tub as something specific, such as a plunge pool or cold pool.

While it may sound like an odd question, there are in fact, many ways where a hot tub can be used in the same way we enjoy pools: You can lounge in them, work out in them and spend time with our family in them.

Plus, there are always swim spas, which should be discussed here because they are the closest pool replacement on the market as they cost less and can do more than pools.

We will cover those too in the following headings:

  • Can you use a hot tub as a swimming pool?
  • Can a hot tub be used as a cold pool?
  • Can I use a hot tub as a plunge pool?
  • Can I use a hot tub as a dipping pool?
  • Why your best hot tub as a swimming pool option is the swim spa

By the end, we hope you’ll have a good understanding of how a hot tub can be used as a pool.



Can You Use a Hot Tub as a Swimming Pool?

The answer is yes and no. You can’t swim in a hot tub (although you can in a swim spa). That’s the biggest difference.

They aren’t typically large enough to play games in either: tossing a ball around is hard in a hot tub, for example.

But what can you do in them that is the same as a pool? The list is long:  

  • Exercise: People love having backyard pools so that they can swim laps and get a great workout whenever they please. Hot tubs are no exception. In fact, the warm water quickly loosens muscles and combined with the water buoyancy, makes it a great place to get a low-impact workout. While you cannot swim laps in a hot tub, you can tread water in place and perform aquatic exercises or even perform aqua yoga.
  • Relaxing: Backyard pools in the summer are synonymous with relaxing and enjoying time with friends and family. Ask almost any hot tub owner and they will argue that a hot tub is even better for achieving a state of total relaxation and fun place to spend time and socialize. Jetted seats and loungers are comfortable to relax in while enjoying a beverage or chatting with friends. Plus, bathers can also receive a customized hydrotherapy massage packed with wellness benefits at the same time!
  • Therapy: While swimming is a great way to stay fit and unwind after a stressful day, the benefits of hydrotherapy massage are tremendous. Hot tubs are better at this than swimming pools. Hydrotherapy is great for muscle tension, sports injuries, back and neck problems.
  • Night-Time Dip: Another favourite pool pastime is taking a nighttime dip. Hot tubs can be used the same as a pool for this activity and are perfect for taking a soak and relaxing under the stars. Bring out some warm towels, a cup of herbal tea or lemonade and enjoy a sunset hydrotherapy session or watching the full moon from the comfortable warm waters of your hot tub.

As you can see, hot tubs can be used in a similar way to how you can use a pool. But there is one major advantage to owning a hot tub and that is the year-round functionality. Even in the dead of winter or a nasty cold snap, you can always enjoy a warm soak in your hot tub. In fact, some people say that their favourite time to take a soak is when it is raining.

Pools, on the other hand, need to be drained shut down for the winter months in most of the world, leaving them only to be enjoyed in our warmer seasons.

Can a Hot Tub be Used as a Cold Pool?

Many people turn the water temperature down to 75F in their hot tubs in the summer, especially in the warmer parts of the world like the Southern United States or the Caribbean. Hot tubs originated in California, where it can be hot all summer so turning down the temperature happens there too. The insulation in hot tubs helps keep the water cool as much as it can keep the hot water warm.

Some hot tubs are sold specifically to move from cold in the summer to hot in the winter, and there are some after-market accessories – often called “chillers” – that can convert your hot tub into a cold tub. So can it be done? Yes, no question.

The only thing we’d say is to check your warranty before trying a chiller or any of the methods you might stumble onto online. You just want to make sure whatever you do, you’re still going to be able to fix it after.  

Can a Hot Tub be Used a Plunge Pool?

These are very similar: the main difference is that the hot tub offers more jets and seats, while a plunge pool is a stripped-down version: It’s simply a basin of water, in the ground, that allows you to move around. For a comparable cost, a hot tub can do more.

A swim spa is almost entirely like a plunge pool, except it has jets that create a current so you can swim into it. Like in a plunge pool, the basin can have few seats (because you need the room to swim in).  We are biased, but we also know that a swim spa costs the same or less as a plunge pool, is of similar size and can do more.

Can a Hot Tub be Used as a Dipping Pool?

See above! A dipping pool and a plunge pool are the same thing.

Your Best Option for a Hot Tub That Acts Like a Pool?

It is a modified version of a hot tub called a swim spa. A swim spa combines the best of a hot tub with the best of a pool and can be had a price comfortably between both. It can be used year-round, installed in the ground, it’s large enough for families and you can swim in it, lounge in it and get a massage in it.

In short, it can do everything a pool can do at less cost. In most cases, you also need fewer permits (or no permits at all) to install one. If you’re really looking for a hot tub that is a pool replacement, our best option for you is a swim spa.

Can a Hot Tub be Used as a Pool?

The answer is yes: But a better option as a pool replacement is a swim spa. Lounging, exercise, family time: Many of the things you might want to do in a pool can be done in a hot tub. But all of them can be done in a swim spa, and at a much lower cost in most cases.

One of the elements that is best about hot tubs and swim spas is their versatility. A hot tub or swim spa can be designed to work for many different types of customers. While this is a great attribute, it can also mean people are left confused, trying to figure out which option is right for them, after being handed a brochure with 100 hot tubs or directed to a website with dozens of options.

If you’re stuck, a local retailer can help you work out which is the right hot tub or swim spa option for you. Find one here.

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