Building and buying

Setting up a whirlpool: requirements, models and costs

Torben Schröder

Pure relaxation – that’s what a whirlpool on the patio or balcony promises you. Fortunately, this type of pool is quite straightforward to set up. Here you can find out what requirements you should consider, which model is suitable for you and how much it will cost.

A young woman lies in a whirlpool on a patio, with headphones on her head and a tablet in her hand.
© Getty Images / Paolo Cipriani

In this article

Whirlpools: planning and requirements

At first glance, having your own outdoor whirlpool seems to be a dream that is difficult to realize. But if you have enough space on the patio of your house or on the balcony of your apartment, you have already met the most important requirement. Below we give you an overview of other factors that need to be taken into account during the planning stage:

View of a large whirlpool on a patio. In the adjoining garden there is a set of chairs with red cushions and a small waterfall.

A level surface and a suitable location – that’s basically all you need to create your own personal oasis of well-being.

  • Ground: the whirlpool must be placed on a firm and level surface.
  • Positioning: avoid places under trees and bushes – you don’t want to be sprinkled with flowers, leaves and needles while relaxing in the whirlpool. You should also make sure that there is as little wind as possible, because if the air currents are too strong, bathing can be unpleasantly cool – especially in winter. Installing a whirlpool in the garden – without additional protection – is therefore not recommended.
  • Roof or cover: it’s not absolutely necessary, but provides protection against contamination, UV radiation and rainfall.
  • Water supply: a whirlpool doesn’t require a separate household plumbing connection. You can simply fill it with a garden hose. The drain valve allows you to empty the pool – when you need to change the water, for example.
  • Power connection: the normal household connection is usually sufficient. However, whirlpools with several massage pumps need a high-voltage connection.

In both cases, no extra connection cable is included in the delivery of high-end models. Instead, you must run the power cable directly from the building distribution system to the whirlpool via a fixed connection. Ideally you should consult an electrician for this.

  • Privacy: checking in advance the view to all sides and from all angles can do no harm.
  • Delivery: the larger the whirlpool, the more space is required for delivery. Please note that heavy construction equipment may have to be placed on your land or in front of your apartment building.

Legal basis in Switzerland

A building permit is usually required when structural alterations are made to houses or to owner-occupied and rented apartments. In Switzerland, the regulations differ from canton to canton. This means that in some places, the installation of a small pool in the garden is allowed without a permit. However, if you want to sink your whirlpool completely or partially into the ground, for example, a permit is always necessary. It’s best to obtain information in good time from the building authority in your municipality.

A whirlpool on the patio or balcony

Read about the advantages of each alternative here and discover the specific factors that need to be considered.

A whirlpool on the patio

A solid and even surface is usually already available here. If this is not yet the case, you can create the necessary surface with a concrete foundation. A place near the door makes a suitable location, as the house wall offers additional protection against wind, cold and dirt and you will only have a short walk to reach the pool – which is more pleasant when going for a dip in frosty outside temperatures. If you have a particularly large amount of space, it’s possible to construct a building structure to make the whirlpool fit in with the look of the patio.

View of a wooden patio idyllically situated in a forest. The steaming whirlpool is a perfect match in terms of location and colors.

A building structure can allow you to design a better entrance to the whirlpool and integrate it from a visual point of view.

A whirlpool on the balcony

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still have your own whirlpool. Because even on a balcony – or, even better, on a roof patio – installation is not a problem.

As a rule, the surface area of a balcony is smaller than that of a patio, which makes the choice of location all the more important. Another key factor to consider is the load capacity of the balcony or roof patio. You should have this determined by a specialist. The weight per square meter of surface can be found in the technical data of the whirlpool. It’s important to include the weight of the maximum amount of water and the body weight of the maximum number of people allowed.

Tip: if the desired whirlpool is too heavy for your balcony, it may be possible to enlarge the surface area occupied by the whirlpool by using load distribution plates or a steel frame construction.

You can easily fill the whirlpool with a water hose. This requires an adapter, which you attach to your kitchen tap, for example. It is of course also possible to transport water by bucket – but this option is much more laborious.

Finding the right whirlpool model

How many people should be able to fit in the whirlpool? Will you use the pool for relaxation only, or also for sporting purposes – such as swimming with a counter-current system? Which geometric shape would you prefer, and which design corresponds to the structural conditions of the patio or balcony? What material should the whirlpool be made of? How much is it going to cost? In order to answer your questions and find the right model for you, we recommend obtaining advice on site – by visiting a manufacturer’s showroom or a trade fair. Trying out the whirlpool without any water in can also help in the decision-making process.

To give you a first impression of the variety of whirlpools available from different providers, we present four models here.

Inflatable pool: installed in a flash

The Intex Purespa Bubble Massage belongs to the category of inflatable whirlpools. With a diameter of 196 centimeters, there is room for four people. 120 nozzles create a bubbling effect. You can also sit on the edge thanks to the extra-strong three-layer pool foil. At around 640 francs (price on 24 August 2020), the model is quite affordable.

But watch out: inflatable whirlpools are not suitable for use in sub-zero temperatures.

Massage and aroma jets: the classic whirlpool

With five seats and place for one person to lie down, the 218 x 218 centimeter Oceanus Whirlpool Meridian offers whirlpool fun for up to six people. 48 massage jets and 16 air aroma jets will help your body to relax, while LED underwater spotlights will put you in the right mood. The base price is 16,900 francs (price on 16 December 2020).

A futuristic whirlpool

The Wellis Volcano Spa is an exception in terms of material, as its frame and tub are not made of PVC as is often the case, but of stainless steel. This not only makes this pool very durable, but also gives it a trendy look. Up to six people can sit inside in an area measuring 227 x 257 centimeters. The basic equipment includes a circulation pump, a water disinfection system and color therapy using LED lighting. The basic price at Top Whirlpool is 34,999 francs (price on 24 August 2020).

Fitness and wellness in one

Anyone with a little more space available who is not only looking for a feel-good factor, but also has sporting ambitions, can opt for the 587 x 225 Brisbane 59 swimming spa from Mitac. The pool is divided into two areas. In one of them, six powerful counter-current jets ensure that you stay in place while swimming. Up to five people can relax in the separate whirlpool space at the same time. At 6,780 liters, the filling capacity is considerable. So too is the price of 38,000 francs (price on 24 August 2020).

Whirlpools: running costs

As well as being expensive to buy, a whirlpool also costs a lot to maintain. The highest costs are for electricity. But you should also take into account the purchase of water treatment products and the necessary replacement of wearing parts in your calculation. For a four-square-meter whirlpool with a capacity of 1,200 liters, you should expect to pay approximately 100 francs of operating costs per month.

Water can be seen bubbling in a bluish whirlpool.

A whirlpool also entails running costs and obligations: changing the water, cleaning and carrying out repairs also mean extra costs.

Cleaning and maintenance of a whirlpool

Just like any type of swimming pool, the whirlpool needs to be maintained. The water will need to be changed every three to six months. To remove the water, simply attach a garden hose to the drain valve using an adapter, then let the water run in a controlled manner into a drainage shaft or sewer – or, in the case of a balcony pool, into the bathtub drain or toilet. You should avoid using the rainwater gutter, as the water from a whirlpool is not rainwater but wastewater.

In the meantime, the water quality can be kept stable with treatment products. The trend is more and more towards chlorine-free agents that protect the environment when you change the water. It’s essential to clean the filter once a week. In more expensive whirlpools, an ozonator and a UV lamp are built in to assist with disinfection.

Conclusion: installing a whirlpool – it’s easier than you think

Enough space, a flat surface and an electrical connection – that’s basically all it takes to install your own whirlpool on the patio or balcony. Different models are available, ranging from a simple inflatable model to a swim spa with a counter-current system.

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