Types Of Hot Tubs
With so many different types of hot tubs and spas on the market, the decision making process can get confusing fast!
We're here to help.
We'll review the 6 main hot tub categories to give you a better idea of their sizes, features, functionality and price so that you can select the perfect option for your needs.
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The 6 Different Types Of Hot Tubs
Portable Hot Tub
A portable hot tub is the type of hot tub that most likely comes to mind when you think of a residential hot tub. There are many types of portable hot tubs to choose from, with a wide range of features, sizes, and designs.
People often refer to portable hot tubs as above-ground hot tubs, as they are made to sit atop a flat surface, such as a patio, deck, or concrete pad.
We refer to these types of hot tubs as “portable” hot tubs, as they can be moved from place to place.
However, this does not mean that a portable hot tub will be easy to move necessarily, as they can weigh quite a bit, depending on the size.
Most modern portable hot tubs utilize energy-efficient designs and durable materials. While these types of hot tubs are not built into the landscaping, you can find unique cabinetry colors and designs to make them feel like more cohesive parts of your backyard.
You'll often pay anywhere between $4,000 and $13,000 for these types of hot tubs, though you may end up paying more if you choose to add luxury features, such as Bluetooth sound systems, LED accent lighting, or digital remote control systems for water temperature.
In-Ground Hot Tub
In-ground hot tubs are those that are built into the ground, sitting flush with the surrounding landscaping. You'll often find these types of hot tubs, such as a concrete hot tub, installed alongside swimming pools using the same building materials.
While just about anyone can set up a portable hot tub, installing an in-ground hot tub requires professional experience.
When installed correctly, you can get years of relaxation and enjoyment out of one of these models.
Plus, a well-designed and well-integrated hot tub may even add value to your home.
The main advantage of in-ground hot tubs is that they are custom-built to fit the desires of the consumer.
Customization will cost you a bit more, which is why in-ground hot tubs are often between $12,000 and $20,000. The styles and options are near endless, allowing you to design an in-ground hot tub that compliments your landscaping.
Rotomolded Hot Tub
Roto-molded hot tubs are in the same category as above-ground or portable hot tubs, though we decided to categorize them on their own due to their budget-friendly designs. These unique hot tubs are different from prefab hot tubs in that they are very lightweight and easy to move from place to place, perfect for those who have not settled down in a home yet.
Your average roto-molded hot tub will only weigh around 300 pounds without any water.
Compared to inflatable hot tubs, which we’ll get into in a bit, roto-molded hot tubs are more durable and use comfortable contoured seats for higher-quality relaxation.
Roto-molded hot tubs are much cheaper on average than your typical prefabricated hot tub, running anywhere from $2,500 to $6,500.
It is important to note that while roto-molded hot tubs are durable, portable, and practical, you will not get the same level of customization due to the lack of upgrade possibilities. In terms of appearance, roto-molded tubs look nowhere near as luxurious as the above hot tub types and are not the most energy-efficient, meaning they could cost you more to keep heated in the long run.
Wooden Hot Tub
If a traditional spa experience is what you're after, we recommend looking for a quality wooden hot tub. You won't find these types of hot tubs on the market as commonly as you would a prefab or roto-molded hot tub, as they are not the most practical in terms of operation.
With a wooden hot tub, you have to use an external heating source, such as a gas heater or wood-fired heater.
The neat thing about these types of hot tubs is that they are not dependent on electricity, making them perfect for off-grid properties, such as cabins or campgrounds.
See our Natural Gas Hot Tub vs Electric article for more detailed information.
On average, wooden hot tubs cost between $4,000 and $11,000. However, the overall price will depend on several factors, including size, wood type, and heating source.
One of the biggest disadvantages of a wooden hot tub is that it will not be integrated with the same cutting-edge technology and comfort futures you would find in a modern portable tub. Compared to the durable and energy-efficient shell materials and foam insulation found in most portable hot tubs, wood is inferior.
For example, cedar hot tubs are more prone to heat loss compared to rotationally molded hot tubs.
Inflatable Hot Tub
Inflatable hot tubs, otherwise known as soft-sided hot tubs, are the perfect entry-level models for those who are just dipping their feet into the home spa lifestyle.
These ultra-budget-friendly tubs offer warm water hydrotherapy without all the bells and whistles of a hard-shell portable or in-ground tub.
Many inflatable hot tub manufacturers will market the “massaging jets” on their hot tubs, though, in reality, these hydrotherapy jets are bubble spouts that only offer a really mellow massage experience that won't hit nearly as deep as the modern jet systems available these days.
Most inflatable hot tubs also will not come with all the same fun features found in in-ground hot tub models, such as built-in speakers, built-in drink holders, or salt water hot tub treatment system solutions.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of inflatable hot tubs are their plug-and-play designs. You can plug your inflatable hot tub directly into a standard 110V outlet to get it up and running instead of having to hire an electrician to come and install a 220/240V outlet, which you would need for a regular hot tub.
We wouldn't recommend purchasing an inflatable hot tub if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, as they are not the most durable pieces of equipment. During the winter months, be sure to store an inflatable hot tub away if you get lots of snow.
Hot Tub/Swim Spa Combo
Do you love fitness as much as you love hot tubbing?
If so, you might consider getting a hot tub and swim spa combo model, which comes with a hot tub on one end and an exercise spa on the other.
Of course, with both units in one, you can expect these combo models to take up quite a bit of space compared to your average standalone hot tub.
You'll need to have a larger indoor or outdoor space for installation and a solid foundation that can handle thousands of pounds of water weight.
Portable swim spas are essentially hybrids between in-ground swimming pools and traditional hot tubs.
One of the main benefits of hot tub and swim spa combo models is that you can enjoy swimming all year round. You never have to worry about forgoing your swimming routine when the winter months roll around, as these models stay heated throughout the year.
Hot tub and swim spa combos are technically larger versions of portable or above-ground hot tubs, though they are much larger and heavier. Expect the initial price and the ongoing cost of running and maintaining one of these models to be higher. On average, a hot tub and swim spa combo model costs between $10,000 and $40,000, depending on the size, features, and dealer.
These large, often rectangular hot tubs work best for hot tub parties!
The Final Verdict
There you have it, some of the best hot tub types on the hot tub market today.
Whether you're looking to buy a new hot tub, or just window shopping for their prices, make sure to click the button below. It's our job to connect shoppers with the lowest prices from reputable hot tub and swim spa dealers in their area.
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About The Author
Bobby Gifford // Staff Writer
Bobby Gifford has over 17 years of experience with hot tubs and swimming pools. He has owned one pool and several hot tub brands over the years and has a wide scope of knowledge including buying information, maintenance and industry trends.