As you compare swim spas, two of the main components you ll be looking at are the water current and the number of hydrotherapy jets included. However, there are additional considerations that add to the experience and value you ll receive   both of which are achieved through accessories.

Swim spa accessories are often included as standard by most major manufacturers. Standard items include lighting packages, tethers and steps. Though deluxe versions are almost always available, a good manufacturer will provide these basic components, especially in models designed for a specific purpose, such as resistance training, elite swimming or family fun.

With that in mind, here s a rundown on some of the most popular accessories and what you might expect to pay for each.

 

Lighting
This is one of the most common accessories frequently included with swim spas. But depending on your intended use, the type of lighting package you select can make or break your swimming experience. Entertainment packages are usually multi-colored while those aimed at elite swimming or athletic training will be standard white and used primarily to increase visibility and illuminate swim lanes.

Swim spa lights should be UL-rated and 120-volt. Each is designed specifically for underwater installation and must be wired to a branch circuit with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

All lights designed for swim spas also feature LED technology. This is an important development as it will directly affect the operating cost of the swim spa. Depending on the brand and type selected, some are capable of providing bright, colorful light while requiring half the energy as competing brands. Some manufacturers may be willing to install more than one type of light if your spa is custom designed   if so, compare energy consumption.

Additional features common to many current models are:

  • Uniform distribution of light and color to avoid hot spots on walls or floor
  • Rotatable lenses that can be adjusted up to 180 degrees, allowing for customized lighting schemes
  • Primary colors, including blue, green, magenta, red and white, that can be solid or mix-and-match

Estimated costs: $150 to $160 per fixture; $30 per replacement bulb.

Stereo
Another standard inclusion, stereo components are becoming more and more common with swim spa manufacturers. If they don t include it as standard, almost all offer it as an upgrade. All components, including speakers and subwoofers, are waterproof.

The two things to watch out for are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility. Though wired systems are still available, wireless connectivity allows you to stream music from any wireless device directly into the swim spa s sound system.

Also be on the lookout for one of the newest developments in swim spa stereos that uses tactile transducers instead of speakers. It s an approach that almost has to be experienced to be believed. But it short, this technology transforms the spa itself into the speaker, bonding the transducers to the shell and transmitting the sound waves through the solids and liquids of the swim spa itself   including the bathers. Tactile transducers reportedly provide the most direct experience by surrounding you in music.

Estimated costs: Bluetooth models can add as little as $200 onto the total cost; tactile transducers will run a minimum of $2,800.

Tether
Many swim spa manufacturers offer this accessory. And depending on the water flow of the tub you buy, you may or may not need it. A tether is designed to help compensate for an uneven current by steadying the swimmer in the center of the pool. It s often found paired with jet-based models or swim spas that focus more on entertainment or hot tub features than elite or competitive swim training.

The best models are those that attach around the waist, providing a more comfortable, natural feel than those that attach at the ankle.

A tether is probably not necessary (and sometimes not even included) with the higher-end swim spas designed for elite swimming. If included with these models, the intent is usually to add additional resistance to the swim current.

Estimated costs: $150 to $230.

Treadmill
More of an option than an actual accessory, treadmills are extremely popular among those who use a swim spa for resistance training or physical rehabilitation. They provide a safe, comfortable way for someone to build muscle while dramatically reducing body weight and its resulting strain on joints. Similar to a standard treadmill, the underwater variety features a belt that travels along a set of rollers. As the runner strides forward, the belt turns and the water provides low-impact resistance   no electricity required.

Underwater treadmills are quick to install and some models feature handlebars that can be removed without tools in just seconds. This allows you to leave the treadmill base in place for swimming or hot tub use. Others can be lifted out completely. Units work in both above-ground and in-ground swim spas and weigh roughly 50 to 75 lbs.

Estimated costs: $1,400 to $1,900.

Hydraulic Cover
Swim spa covers are essential for retaining heat and reducing heating costs. But given that many are 5-inches thick, their design also makes them cumbersome and heavy. Though not every manufacturer is able to offer hydraulic cover lifts, those that do may well be worth your consideration.

A hydraulic cover lift typically features aluminum full-frame construction and mounting brackets. If you live in areas with heavy snowfall, look for those that support heavier weights   275 pounds of pressure per square foot is one common example.

Estimated costs: $200 to $520.

Steps
Most manufacturers include some type of step device as standard. But depending on the decking or other materials surrounding your swim spa, you may want to upgrade to one crafted from cedar planks. Additional options include a choice between two to four steps and a multitude of colors including:

  • Black
  • Grey
  • Espresso
  • Mahogany
  • Portobello [sic]
  • Brown
  • Sand
  • Taupe
  • Walnut

Estimated costs: $80 to $760 depending on the number of steps, inclusion of handrails and materials used.

Conclusion
Accessories amplify the usability and fun you ll get out of a swim spa   often achieving both goals simultaneously. Many are available direct through qualified dealers while others can be purchased (sometimes cheaper) through third-party providers.

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