Spa Vs Stand Alone Hot Tub? Help! Save my marriage.

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
147
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Pool Size
12000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I'm still waiting for my build to finish, but I've seen some builds where people built a standalone beside the pool in a way that makes it almost look completely integrated. You need permanent/convenient access to at least one of the spa for maintenance but depending on your design, that could be something worth considering.

I use the built in spa up at the community pool all the time, so I'm used to the built-in "feel"/utility but they certainly aren't anything like the experience of being in a high quality standalone unit.

I have no experience with them, but there is at least one company that makes "inserts" that can be used in a gunite spa to give more of the experience of standalone spa's... http://www.hxworldwide.com/webimage...l/bullfrog-international-jetpaks-brochure.pdf

I don't have any idea if those work well or are durable, but maybe someone else here has some experience with these sorts of products?
 

Vukota12

Well-known member
Jul 3, 2020
53
New Jersey
We’re in Texas, so the climate difference may be a factor. We went with an integrated spa, primarily due to the look, which we love. We’ve never heated the entire pool - only the spa, and we really don’t use it very much, but it doesn’t take very long to heat. Granted, our water temp only gets down to the high 40s - low 50s and pool never closes. I don’t know that a freestanding spa would get any more usage and I certainly wouldn’t want another maintenance chore. Our neighbors put in a freestanding spa and regretted not having gone the integrated route, purely from an aesthetic perspective. It somewhat “cheapened” the look of a pretty expensive pool project. The 2nd homeowner removed it. I’ve been in freestanding spas on ski trips and there’s no question that they offer more from a therapeutic angle.
Thank you!
 

Vukota12

Well-known member
Jul 3, 2020
53
New Jersey
I may be in the minority here but I prefer integrated over stand alone and I have had both. Stand alone is a PITA to keep water balanced and have to drain every couple months otherwise it gets too saturated with organics, scum, etc. Integrated is one body of water easy to keep balanced with TFP no maintenance at all just run it in spill over mode every day. It heats up in about 15-20 minutes, not really a cost or convenience issue. Regarding therapy that is a personal choice but I never enjoyed having 50 jets pushing my booty around on a slick fiberglass surface. Perfectly happy with 8 jets on a gunite surface and just soaking and we use it almost every night with a glass of wine.
Showing this to my wife!!!!! Thank you.
 

Aquaman7

Well-known member
Sep 15, 2019
317
NJ
V.
I’m in the same boat as you. Like the look of the integrated spa but want the effects of a freestanding spa. After doing research and talking to a ton of people, I’ve come to a compromise. I’m going to put my stand alone hot tub next to my pool. The pool decking will continue over the hot tub. Also wrap around it. So it looks integrated but will be free standing.
 
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Robynethridge

Member
Jun 23, 2019
14
League city, TX
We have a stand alone - I love it! It is a caldera brand spa, has over 50 jets, I love the feet jets, the seats are more comfortable. However, I do like the overall look of an integrated spa a lot more. We have our hot tub on our patio whereas the pool we are building will be 8 feet away from the hot tub. And in my opinion it does cheapen the look. However, I love the the stand alone is hot all the time, it really is not a problem keeping the water balanced, and emptying/refilling. I empty it during the night every few months and the next morning it is empty and ready to be filled - then I fill it and by that evening its hot and ready to be used. It hasn't been a big deal.
 

BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
448
SW PA
Ask yourself "for 10K, do I want something to look at or use?" We use our hot tub way more in the months the pool is in winter hibernation than we do in the hot summer months. It's been in the 90's all week here. The last thing I want to do is sit in 100 degree water.

With just a little creativity, it's not too hard to integrate a stand-alone spa into the pool area's overall aesthetic. . Google hot tub surrounds, or something similar, for ideas on what is possible.

You know what the winter weather in Jersey is like...why not make it just a little more bearable. I can tell you from experience, lounging in a steamy spa sipping your favorite beverage, being massaged by dozens of theraputic jets, while the snow falls all around you is truly one of life's little pleasures. Almost makes you glad it's snowing....almost.
 
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Vukota12

Well-known member
Jul 3, 2020
53
New Jersey
Ask yourself "for 10K, do I want something to look at or use?" We use our hot tub way more in the months the pool is in winter hibernation than we do in the hot summer months. It's been in the 90's all week here. The last thing I want to do is sit in 100 degree water.

With just a little creativity, it's not too hard to integrate a stand-alone spa into the pool area's overall aesthetic. . Google hot tub surrounds, or something similar, for ideas on what is possible.

You know what the winter weather in Jersey is like...why not make it just a little more bearable. I can tell you from experience, lounging in a steamy spa sipping your favorite beverage, being massaged by dozens of theraputic jets, while the snow falls all around you is truly one of life's little pleasures. Almost makes you glad it's snowing....almost.
 
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setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,666
Stuart/FL
Pool Size
12800
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Plaster
Chlorine
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CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
Haven't read back through all of this thread but I'm sure at least a couple experts will tell you integrated spa's don't get used a lot. We live in S Florida and swim at least several times per week year round using the spa a lot to relax after; sometimes spa only when it's colder and we forgot to heat the pool up. We love the spa. But if we lived where you do I don't think we'd pay that much for it. Seems like a separate unit could be kept comfortable to use for at least an extended season plus could be cheaper to start with. But since the cost is still close I wouldn't make the choice on $ I would make it on what you'll use the most. Tip-toeing out in your freezing cold fall/winters could be a shorter run to and from a separate hot tub. For us cold weather wimps that may actually be the decider.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 
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JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
1,897
Prosper, TX (DFW)
@JJ_Tex do you guys call it a cool tub because it’s *only* 104 degrees ??
Man, at 98 degrees I have found that I need to sit on the edge and take a break for a few minutes. Of course I've also noticed that anything under 85 is chilly for me.
Owning a pool has made me realize I'm more delicate than I previously wanted to admit :)
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
3,085
Morris Cnty NJ
You can do a drop in spa that is meant to be surrounded. Depending on your grade you can do 3 sides of retaining wall or veneer stone etc. Its ideal to leave access if possible all around, but at the least the service panel needs access because pumps will go bad and ozone,swg,etc need service
 

Aquaman7

Well-known member
Sep 15, 2019
317
NJ
You can do a drop in spa that is meant to be surrounded. Depending on your grade you can do 3 sides of retaining wall or veneer stone etc. Its ideal to leave access if possible all around, but at the least the service panel needs access because pumps will go bad and ozone,swg,etc need service
Jimmy in reference to hot tubs the service panel is only one side?
So the only time one will need access to the remaining three panels was if there was a leak? Being the all the equipment is accessible through the service panel.
 
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jseyfert3

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TFP Guide
Oct 20, 2017
1,263
Southern WI
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Liquid Chlorine
All you guys who prefer integrated are in CA or AZ etc. In NJ, we have most pools closed in sept/Oct and the spa would go with it. If we were in your climate integrated all the way or both
This! So much this! Integrated spas look amazing. But as I read the thread I was tallying the locations of the people saying "go integrated." AZ, NC, FL, TX...

Case in point:
We used our spa at least weekly over the winter. With our heater, the spa would heat up about a degree a minute so even in the dead of winter with 50 degree water temps, you are talking 30ish minutes for it to heat up to temp.
"dead of winter" and "50 degree water temps" do not go hand in hand in Wisconsin (or NJ where the OP is). You can go a month and not see 50 °F air temps or anything close to it. So more like "man I wish that frozen block of water was a hot tub!"

While we don't have an IG pool, if I was building one I would not get an integrated spa unless budget allowed for integrated spa and standalone spa, or we moved to CA/TX/FL. We bought our house in January, and spent lots of time in the included standalone spa. Most of the time it was about 20 °F air temp, calm winds, and it was amazing. I got in as low as 1 °F, but didn't stay too long as my ears/head was getting cold. With a hat on it would have been just fine.


Basically, within reason, the colder it was outside the better it felt to use the hot tub, with 30 °F and calm winds probably being the best. We usually had it at 100 °F with ambient 20-30 °F, dropping to 98 °F at ambient 70 °F. Get to 80 °F ambient and it's just no fun to use anymore (for us), unless you're specifically getting in to massage sore muscles.

If you get a hot tub and want to use in in the winter, I recommend:
  • Placing close to the house, if possible. Less walkway to shovel or get covered in ice, closer to the house to clean off the cover and check water chemistry.
  • Cover holder. Get a nice flip up cover holder, you can cover it in about 30 seconds, which is longer than you'll want to spend...
Other issues I had was water freezing in the cover locks, but with the fence now I am no longer required to lock the spa cover. Also even with clean, dry concrete we would leave footprints when we got out to use the restroom or get a drink, then freeze, leading to a slip hazard. I'll probably look into a heated snow/ice melting mat this winter, but I'm not certain those are rated (electrically) for walking on barefoot...
 
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