Built-in Hot Tubs vs. Portable Hot Tub: How to Choose What’s Right For You

Once you have made the decision to purchase a hot tub, the next important factor that you need to consider is whether you want a built-in hot tub or a portable hot tub for your home. There are many differences between the two styles that need to be considered in order to make the best decision for your needs and lifestyle.

Below, we will discuss built-in hot tubs vs. portable hot tubs and how to choose what is right for you. While both styles offer a number of health and wellness benefits, each has their advantages and disadvantages.

Hot tub

Installation Considerations

Built-in hot tubs usually are easier to integrate into your surrounding environment and landscaping compared to a portable hot tub. As the name suggests, a built-in hot tub is level with the ground and seamlessly blends with your lawn as it does not require a cabinet.

While portable hot tubs are more versatile in where they can be placed and that they can be moved, some owners opt to build custom decking or enclosures for their portable hot tub so that it can integrate into their landscaping better. For those concerned with the aesthetic of their home and lawn, a built-in hot tub is probably a better choice. For those that want flexibility with their hot tub location or may be planning on moving in the near future and want to take it along with them, a portable hot tub would make more sense.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Another factor which may help you make your decision is how much time you want to spend on routine maintenance for your hot tub. Above ground, portable hot tubs typically require slightly less maintenance and do not cost as much for cleaning chemicals and supplies. Furthermore, portable hot tubs usually come with a quick draining feature, which speeds up the cleaning regime compared to built-in models. Similarly, once drained the acrylic shells of portable hot tubs are usually easier to clean compared to the concrete interior of built-in models.

On the flip side, with built-in hot tubs, the water pump and heater can be easily accessed as their machinery is kept separate from the actual tub, which can be helpful for maintenance. In portable models, the heater and plumbing are built into the unit.

Hot tub

Water Jets

In most cases, portable hot tubs offer a wider range of jet configurations compared to built-in models. With the advent of ergonomic, acrylic portable hot tub seats, water jets can easily be configured in a wide variety of positions whereas built-in models generally have a bench seating style with less versatility for jet customization.


Portable hot tubs typically outperform built-in models when it comes to heating. Portable hot tubs usually come with custom made covers that lock and fit securely which retain and reuse heat between uses. Although covers can be purchased for built-in models, they may not be as efficient, especially if the hot tub is a custom designed shape. Built-in hot tubs usually take longer to reach their ideal temperature vs. portable models.


As mentioned above with the installation considerations, built-in hot tubs are generally more expensive than portable models. That being said, if you are planning on enclosing your portable hot tub with a deck or patio, the additional materials and labour costs required may end up costing almost the same, if not more than a built-in hot tub. Make sure to discuss your options with your local hot tub dealer and ask for detailed quotes so that you can find out which situation will work best for your budget and needs.

In the end, both built-in hot tubs and portable hot tubs are a wonderful way to relax and take advantage of hydrotherapy to improve your overall health and wellness. Whether or not a built-in model or portable hot tub is better, depends on your needs, lifestyle, and budget.

About the Author

Scott Bland has been in the leisure industry for nearly 20 years.  As a sales manager in the leisure industry he knows hot tubs inside and out.  Right now he works sales while writing about consumer goods on the side.  If you want to contact him, you can do so at his LinkedIn.



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