A Guide to Portable Hot Tubs and Portable Swim Spas

A portable hot tub or portable swim spa can be the perfect addition to any backyard.  They are also referred to as self-contained hot tubs or above ground hot tubs.  Regardless of nomenclature, they are turnkey meaning they simply need a flat foundation to rest on and a 220v electrical hookup.  Once you have a portable hot tub installed in your backyard you can enjoy limitless hydrotherapy, relaxation, exercise, or simply enjoy recreational time with the family.

In general, a portable hot tub, is very easy to install and can be added as part of a planned backyard landscape or as an after thought.  They are truly that versatile and typically don’t require a permit. 


By contrast you can also go way of an inground hot tub or inground spas.  These types of spas typically require much more planning and installation by a licensed contractor or professional capable of excavating a hole, pouring concrete (or installing a pre-plumbed fiberglass shell), running plumbing, running electrical, and finishing the edges with concrete, tile, or some other type of decking material.  Inground hot tub also require a permit because they are considered a permanent (attached) fixture of the home.  Some advantages with inground spas include custom sizes or custom shapes that may fit better in your backyard landscape design and most importantly they provide a more clean or integrated look as they fit more nicely in a landscape design.

Portable hot tubs and swim spas (a.k.a swim in place vessels) are ideal for the following reasons:

  1. Bigger Selection – between the nearly 100 portable hot tub manufacturers across North America you can find tons of options for various sizes, shapes, seating configurations, and option sure to meet any taste or budget.
  2. Less Expensive and Easier to Install – portable hot tubs have very little installation costs as compared to an inground hot tub.  Lower end portable hot tubs range between $3000-$5000.  Mid level portable hot tubs range between $4,000-$7,000.  Higher end hot tubs range between $7,000-$10,000.  Luxury hot tub range between $10,000-$15,0000. 
  3. Don’t Require a Permit – Portable hot tubs don’t require permits in most cases because they aren’t considered a permanent fixture of a home. 
  4. Better Jets and Equipment – Portable hot tubs have a nice mixtures of jets that perform different types of massage and also come in different sizes.  They also offer strategically placed jets in the footwell for foot massage and also in the neck and shoulder area for upper back and neck massage.  By contrast, inground spas offer a handful of small pressurized jets that are sparse and itchy (little therapeutic benefit).
  5. Easier to Replace – A quality portable hot tub should last 15-20 years and is much easier to replace and upgrade to new model in the future. 
  6. Can be Moved or Relocated – A portable hot tub that sits above ground is extremely easy to relocate in a back yard or to take with you if you want to move to a new home. 
  7. More Feature Rich – Portable hot tub continue to come out with newer water management systems, technology upgrades (stereos, TVs, Bluetooth, Wifi, wireless monitoring and diagnostics), or aesthetic upgrades (waterfalls, LED lighting, misters, aromatherapy, etc.)  
  8. Can Be Built Into a Deck or Recessed Into the Ground – a portable hot tub can also be placed into a deck to give it a more custom look as long as there is adequate access created for servicing the equipment and it can also be recessed into the ground using a concrete vault which would be made larger than the spa so that it can be serviced properly. 
  9. More Energy Efficient – the self contained nature of a portable hot tub makes it more energy efficient because the equipment and cabinet provide warmth and insulate the hot water.  An inground spa loses heat because it’s sitting in the ground with poor insulation and the water is being run away from the hot tub to a separate heater and filter which cools the water as it travels through the system making it much less efficient.
  10. More Comfortable – A portable hot tub has nicely molded seats with staggered seats depths to accommodate all body types (tall or short).  There is even cool down seats or raised areas for smaller children that make them safer and more accommodating for families.  In ground hot tubs typically have one flat bench around the whole hot tub.
  11. Better Water Management Systems – hot tub manufacturers are using the most cutting edge water management and water purification systems available on the market.
  12. Better Quality and Engineering – any time you go custom on anything you run the risk of poor performance, design, or quality and that bodes true especially with a hot tub when your building something that’s designed for performance.  Portable hot tub manufacturers spend a great deal of time doing research and development before they launch a model and you have peace of mind knowing that they are experts in the field and are building it, first and foremost, with quality and performance in mind.

If you are looking for the best portable hot tub brands then make sure to review our buyer’s guide pages or our Top 10 Hot Tub Brands list.
Or simply fill out our “Free Local Hot Tub Quotes” form to get competitive prices on hot tubs and swim spas in your local area.

In-Ground Hot Tubs Versus Portable Hot Tubs and Portable Swim Spas

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