What is a plunge pool?
How are they different from traditional swimming pools?
And are they even worth considering as an alternative?
In this article, we’ll run through everything you need to know about plunge pools to help you decide if it’s worth getting one.
Quick answer: A plunge pool is basically a small swimming pool, so it’s ideal for those with limited space or budget. They’re also easier to maintain and allow for some unique use cases over a full-sized pool.
What Is A Plunge Pool?
A plunge pool, or dipping pool, is a shallow and highly-compact pool designed for relaxing and cooling off.
While plunge pools are often found in luxurious settings such as hotels and spas, they’re slowly becoming more popular in residential settings as they offer a more affordable alternative to swimming pool installation.
Depending on the setting, a plunge pool can come in various shapes and designs to accommodate a more relaxing or social environment. This might include additional seating, lighting, or water features.
How Does a Plunge Pool Work?
Since a plunge pool is just a smaller version of a traditional swimming pool, it works in much the same way.
Like regular pools, plunge pools can be installed inground or above ground, and they come in either concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl models.
Similarly, they have a pump at the heart of their circulation system, pulling water through the skimmer and main drains, then through the filter, before pushing the water back out into the pool through the return jets.
As for sanitation, most plunge pools also utilize chlorine to disinfect the water, with bromine and even salt systems being viable alternatives.
The Benefits of Plunge Pools
Let’s start with some of the biggest benefits of choosing a plunge pool over a traditional swimming pool.
1. They Require Less Space
Plunge pools are usually only slightly bigger than hot tubs at anywhere from 4-7 meters long, 2-3 meters wide, and typically around 1.2-1.8 meters deep. They’re around 50% smaller than regular pools on average.
Because of their considerably smaller size, you can fit a plunge pool into an area a traditional swimming pool would never be installed, especially if you have a smaller property or backyard.
2. They’re Cheaper to Install
A smaller size means fewer materials and less labor for installation, so you can install a plunge pool for sometimes as little as half the budget required for a modestly-sized traditional pool.
Where you might spend $30,000-$50,000 on a “normal” pool, you can install a small plunge pool for as little as $10,000, while a larger, more customized plunge pool might set you back $20,000.
3. They’re Cheaper to Maintain
The cost savings don’t stop after installation.
Ongoing maintenance is considerably cheaper than a regular pool because you use only a fraction of the chemicals for water maintenance. That means you use less chlorine, less stabilizer, less algaecide, and so on.
That’s not to mention the energy savings of running the pump or heating the water during the colder months, as well as the difference in water replacement costs for things like backwashing and draining.
4. They’re Easier to Take Care of
Not only does a smaller body of water require fewer chemicals, but they also accumulate less debris over time (dirt, leaves, insects, etc.) as the surface area of the pool is smaller.
Not only is manually removing debris easier, but the filter is also able to work quickly on anything that does find its way into your water. Of course, throwing on a pool cover to prevent all this requires much less effort as well.
5. They’re Better for Certain Activities
In some ways, the smaller size of a plunge pool allows it to be more multi-functional than a regular-sized pool.
For example, you can easily install a resistance jet system for swimming in place, or customize jets and seating for an improved hydrotherapy experience. A smaller body of water also reacts faster to temperature adjustments, so you can quickly switch between heated and cooled modes.
Of course, things like swimming laps and playing water polo will always work better in a larger pool, so it all depends on your lifestyle.
6. They’re generally Safer
Plunge pools are considered safer than traditional pools, mostly due to their smaller profile and shallower water.
With a massively reduced surface area and depth of as little as 1.2 meters (just shy of 4 feet), the risk of falling in and drowning is significantly lower. It’s still not necessarily ideal for those with younger children or curious pets, however.
Even so, given how easy it is to place and remove a cover on a plunge pool, regular use of a safety cover is a very practical solution for even the most vulnerable family members.
The Drawbacks of Plunge Pools
Now let’s go over some of the biggest drawbacks of getting a plunge pool over a regular swimming pool.
7. They Don’t Have the Same Visual Impact
Despite some of the beautiful design options available for plunge pools, they still lack the “wow factor” that comes with having and showing off a full-sized swimming pool.
If part of the reason you’re getting a swimming pool is to make a statement or fill out a larger area of your backyard for aesthetic purposes, a dipping pool will probably fall short of your expectations.
8. They Fit Fewer People
It goes without saying a smaller pool means fewer people will be able to use it at the same time, but we’ll say it anyway.
As for specific numbers, it’s difficult to say as sizes for both types of pools vary, but most residential pools can comfortably fit 6-10 people whereas a plunge pool might only fit 2-4 people before it gets too cramped.
This isn’t an issue for solo or couple activities, but plunge pools aren’t really suitable for playing pool games or hosting pool parties.
9. They’re Limited for Exercising
This one is probably the least objective because plunge pools offer a wide range of exercises that better utilize a small pool.
With that being said, if you like swimming laps, diving or depth swimming, and doing group exercises such as aerobics, plunge pools are going to feel very limited in comparison to a swimming pool.
Ready to Take the Plunge?
To sum it up, plunge pools are a compact alternative to traditional pools, offering lower installation and maintenance costs, easier upkeep, and unique features for more versatility.
They do, however, come at the cost of smaller capacity, limited exercise space, and a lack of visual appeal; all downsides that will matter more to some and less to others.
The real question is, what benefits do you value most in a pool?