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Home » In Ground Hot Tub Vs. Portable Hot Tub

In Ground Hot Tub Vs. Portable Hot Tub

With so many folks buying new homes & re-imagining their at home experience, backyard staycation renovations have been the hot topic of 2020 & 2021. Redesigning your backyard staycation comes with a ton of planning and even more questions to answer. One of them possible being, should we choose an in ground hot tub or a portable hot tub? Before making that final decision, take a look at our detailed guide on In Ground Hot Tub Vs. Portable Hot Tub. We trust you’ll be able to make the best decision for your at home backyard staycation after reading this article!

What’s an in ground hot tub?

An in ground hot tub is usually built mostly in the ground. These hot tubs are almost always installed and integrated with an in ground pool in terms of design & operations. They can be made from concrete, stone, fiberglass, acrylic, and other materials. The components to operate the hot tub (pumps, heater, temperature etc.) will be with your pool components. You can either heat these hot tubs up a couple hours before you’re ready to use it or keep the hot tub at your preferred temperature (although, costly with in ground hot tubs). We’ll get into more detail in the Pro’s & Con’s section below.

portable hot tub

What’s a portable hot tub?

Portable hot tubs are not permanent fixtures in your backyard. You are actually able to move them to other locations in your backyard or move them with you to a new home if you move. All plumbing, pumps, heaters, filtration, and operations are located in the portable hot tub unit. Think of it like a large box with everything inside that can sit on top of your concrete slab or pavers. More details on portable hot tubs will be discussed in the Pro’s and Con’s section below.


In ground vs portbale hot tub comparison chart seamless integrated design, energy efficiency, salt water, year round use, variety of jets, comfort seating options, long life expectancy, customizable, price.

In ground hot tub pros & cons


• Design integration: usually, in ground hot tubs are able to be seamlessly integrated with your pool for a pleasing backyard design.

• Customization: Because an in ground hot tub is built from scratch in your backyard, you’re able to customize the size, shape, depth, color, and materials however you prefer.

• Features: You get to decide what features you want in your in ground pool since it’s all custom. Add in’s like speakers, a sound system, TV screen, lighting, water falls are all really fun and enjoyable.

• Salt Water Capable: If you decide to choose a salt water system for your pool, your hot tub will automatically be a salt water hot tub! This water care system is the easiest maintenance and healthiest option for your skin!

• Life Expectancy: Because these units are usually built very simple and out of durable materials, they last a very long time.



• Seasonal: You are only able to use your in ground hot tub during the warmer months when you open your pool. During the winter months, your lines will be drained to eliminate the risk of water freezing and breaking the underground pipes. When you close your pool for the winter, you’re also closing your hot tub.

• Energy Efficiency: In ground hot tubs aren’t the most energy efficient option. Either you’re bringing your hot tub to your preferred temperature & wasting energy or you’re keeping it up to temperature 24/7. In ground hot tubs aren’t 100% fully insulated and usually do not have a hot tub cover to seal in the heat. This allows a lot of heat to escape the hot tub & also is the reason why it takes time for the hot tub to heat up.

• Permanent: This one’s kind of obvious. Once you have your in ground hot tub installed, there’s no going back. You’re unable to trade it in for a larger or smaller size, upgraded system, different brand etc. It’s truly one and done here.

• Seating arrangement: Most in ground hot tubs are made with bench seating where it’s just one bench seat around the entire hot tub. Some may find this comfortable, however, most will find they don’t enjoy sitting perfectly upright in a hot tub.

• Jet options: You’ll find your very limited to the amount and type of jets able to be installed. Usually it’s a few stationary mid back level jets.

• Repair: If something needs to be repaired with any plumbing (hopefully not!), your backyard will become a small construction zone again.


Portable hot tub pro’s and cons


• Portable: Again, this is a pretty obvious one. If you decide to redesign your backyard, simply empty your hot tub and have a few people help you move it to a new location. Moving? No problem, hire your local hot tub dealer to move the hot tub with you. Did you know: You can actually sink a portable hot tub in the ground? Ask your local dealer how to do this.

• Year Round: What’s better than hot tubbing in the winter?? We’ll wait. Portable hot tubs are “self contained units” meaning that everything that it needs to operate is located inside the vessel. This allows you to operate the hot tub all year round. Why? They’re engineered & designed to do so. The unit is usually fully insulated throughout (depending on the brand you choose). No gas lines, no plumbing lines, and no pool connection. So, sit back and enjoy the leaves changing & snow falling.

• Energy Efficient: A very important part of winter hot tubbing is energy efficiency. You want to enjoy the luxury of hot tubbing in the cold without paying the price. Your portable spa will feature full foam insulation, a sealing foam cover, efficient pumps & heater, and proper voltage to operate the hot tub. The quality of these features will depend on the brand you ultimately choose.

• Comfort: The seating in portable spas are usually extensively researched and designed for optimal comfort. You’ll see several seating options like straight up seating, lazy boy seats, lounge seats, and captains seats. The idea of this is to allow you to move around the hot tub and change seating positions to provide you with the most comfortable soaking experience. The best way to see what types of seating arrangements you like is to test them out in your local dealers showroom.

• Salt Water Capable: Depending on the brand, your portable spa might offer a salt water option. We advise you do not opt for an aftermarket salt water kit as these are very inefficient & require a high salt level. Check out Hot Spring & Calderas FreshWater Salt System.

• Jet Options: Portable units allow for a variety of jet options throughout your hot tub. You’ll find options like stationary small and large jets, rotating, pulsating, rolling jets & so many more. Jets will also be specifically placed throughout each seat to give you full body powerful massages that are sure to relieve tension, muscle aches, and pain.

• Life Expectancy: If you choose a highly reputable quality brand, you should see a life expectancy of 15-25 years.



• Design Integration: Although some brands have come a long way with design, some may think portable hot tub units don’t fit in as seamlessly as integrated in ground units.

• Limited Customization: There are a ton of brands and models to choose from, however, customization of each unit is very limited. There are specific molds to build each hot tub that cannot be changed to your size preference. Maybe consider choosing another model if you’re looking for something larger or smaller!


Why do people choose portable hot tubs?

We mostly see folks choose portable hot tubs for several reasons (most of them listed above). A lot of folks that choose these spas are really looking for the health benefits of hot tubbing, a solution for year round enjoyment, want easy maintenance options, more affordable option than a pool, or even purchasing a second hot tub because they can’t use their in ground one year round!

Why do people choose in ground hot tubs?

Most of the time homeowners choose in ground hot tubs because they’re built into the price of their pool and it integrates seamlessly with their backyard design.


Ultimately, both in ground & portable hot tub units are a great choice no matter which direction you go. It all comes down to what at home backyard staycation experience you’re looking for. Make sure you choose a reputable company and brand whether you opt for an in ground or portable unit. Research the brand & company to see what their customer service & products are like. Both types of hot tubs are going to be with you in the long run, so you want to make sure the company you’re giving your business to is going to be there for you!

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