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Kadison Hipel26-Feb-2024 9:02:47 PM6 min read

Is A Hot Tub Pool Combo The Right Choice For You?

Inground pools with built-in or attached spas are becoming a major trend and we wanted to dive into this topic in extreme detail so you can decide if a hot tub pool combo is the right choice for you and your family.

Here at Hipel Pools, we are swimming pool contractors with over 100 pool installations and countless pool/spa combo installations. In this article we will be discussing the following points as they relate to inground pools with attached or built-in spas.

  • How do hot tub pool combos work?
  • Functionality
  • Can just the hot tub/spa be used in the winter and the pool closed?
  • Cost
  • Pros & Cons
  • Is a hot tub pool combo right for you?

How Do Hot Tub Pool Combos Work?

To break it down simply the pool spa combination will operate in two modes pool mode and spa mode.

In pool mode both the pool and spa will circulate water through the returns/jets. The spa will be the same temperature as your pool and if your spa has a spillover it can be turned on or off. You will operate your pool/spa combo in pool mode most of the time

In spa mode only the spa will circulate water through the returns/jets the pool will be completely isolated and will not circulate water. The water in the spa can be heated up to 104 F just like a hot tub while in spa mode and will not affect the water temperature of the pool. While in spa mode the spillover from the spa into the pool will not operate. You will use spa mode when you want to use the spa as a hot tub.

If you wish to have the pool circulate water while in spa mode you will need to add an additional pump.

Below are plumbing diagrams of a basic one-pump pool and spa combination and a two-pump, two-filter pool and spa combination. Notice both systems still operate on one heater.


hot tub pool combo plumbing diagrampool and spa combination


Looking at these plumbing diagrams I’m sure you can see that the plumbing on hot tub pool combos can be rather complex and it’s important to note that each valve must be set in a very specific orientation or the system will not function properly.

Each and every time you switch between pool mode and spa mode these valves will need to be turned to the correct position to make the change between the modes. Turning the valves directs the water in a specific route that allows the system to operate correctly.

Due to the plumbing and operational complexity of hot tub pool combos, we highly recommend utilizing pool automation because it automatically moves the valves to the correct position and all you have to do is select pool mode or spa mode on your mobile phone, tablet, computer, or digital control pad. This eliminates the need for you to manually turn the valves to the correct position each and every time you switch between the modes.

The complexity of the system also means you may want to consider hiring a pool service provider to open and close your pool/spa combo and do periodic check-ups to ensure everything is functioning as it should. Unless you are mechanically inclined it will be difficult for you to maintain this type of system on your own.


To determine if a hot tub pool combo is the right decision for you we must compare the functionality to that of a traditional hot tub. 

Hot Tub Pool Combo
  • Contain 4-8 Jets
  • Jets are not recessed into the shell
  • Lights can be included
  • Seats are a bench style and not shaped seats like a hot tub
  • Typically do not have cupholders or headrests
Traditional Hot Tub
  • Include anywhere from 50-80+ jets
  • Most jets are recessed into the shell
  • Lights are typically included
  • Seats can be bench, bucket, or moulded lounge seats
  • Often includes cupholders and headrests

Overall traditional hot tubs are more functional and will cost about the same or less than pool hot tub combos but they do not have the same show-stopping aesthetic appeal.

Can Just The Spa Be Used In The Winter?

The answer is yes you could leave just the spa portion open in the winter and winterize the pool but there are some considerations to make.

  1. You will need to buy a custom winter safety cover for just the pool and also a custom hot tub cover for the spa
  2. Winters are cold. Any malfunction in the pool equipment or power outage during the winter months could be a cause for disaster if the water lines or pool equipment freeze with water in them. Extreme care and regular check-ups must be done if you plan to run your spa through the winter.
  3. Operational costs will be higher through the winter because the water will need to be continually heated to prevent water freezing and damaging the plumbing system.

You should also consider the fact that there likely won’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision to go for a hot tub or spa with hot tub pool combos. It is impractical to maintain a water temperature of around 100 F in this type of system. You would likely maintain a lower temperature of around 60 F through the winter and when you want to use the spa you would increase the water temperature to your desired temperature. It will take some time to get the spa up to temperature. It could take anywhere from 10-60 minutes to reach your desired temperature.


Fiberglass pools with built-in spas such as the Latham Astoria Or Imagine Exquisite will cost somewhere between $105,000 – $130,000 to install depending on where you are located.

If you want to go with a more customized approach and add a raised spa of your choosing to a pool model of your choosing you could spend anywhere from $90,000 – $150,000 depending on the size of pool you decide to go with and how you landscape around the raised spa.

As mentioned earlier in this article because of the complexity of the system you may want to hire a pool service expert to open and close your hot tub pool combo and do periodic checkups on the system. This maintenance cost could be $700 – $2000 a year.

fiberglass pool with attached spa


Hot Tub Pool Combo Pros & Cons

As we always say in many of our articles everything in this world has pros & cons as do hot tub pool combos. Let's explore the pros & cons in more detail.


  • Hot tub pool combos look amazing!
  • Combine a hot tub and a pool into one
  • Spas surface will match the pools making for a cleaner look


  • Operation of the pool and spa are complex and sensitive
  • You can expect to spend $10,000 – $35,000 more on a pool/spa combo than a similarly sized pool without a spa
  • Higher operational costs if you plan on keeping the spa open through the winter
  • Less functionality than a traditional hot tub for similar or more cost

Is A Hot Tub Pool Combo The Right Choice For You?

A hot tub pool combo may be the right choice for you if you're looking for a jaw-dropping backyard pool space. The aesthetic appeal of pool/spa combos is truly amazing. Having said that if you want a hot tub for therapeutic reasons a traditional hot tub is by far the better choice.  Ultimately you will have to decide what you value more aesthetics or functionality.

We at Hipel Pools are swimming pool installers in Kitchener, ON with well over 100 pool installations so if your in the market for an inground pool design and installation or just need advice on a pool and spa combination please get in touch.

Request A Hot Tub Pool Combo Quote


Kadison Hipel

Kadison is the President and Founder of Hipel Pools, a swimming pool builder based in Kitchener, Ontario. With active participation in well over 100 pool builds and thousands of service calls Kadison is well versed in all things pools.