In-ground vs. Above Ground Hot Tubs: What is the Difference?

Once you have decided to purchase a hot tub, one of the first considerations will be whether it will be in-ground or above ground. There are many factors to think about when comparing the two styles. Below, we will discuss some of the major differences between in-ground and above ground hot tubs so that you can make the best decision.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and Maintenance

How much time you want to spend cleaning and maintaining your hot tub could be a factor that influences your decision on whether or not to purchase an in-ground or above ground hot tub model. Above ground hot tubs usually require less maintenance and cost less for chemicals and cleaning supplies.

Above ground hot tubs usually come with a quick drain feature which makes for a faster cleaning process versus in-ground hot tubs. Plus, many above ground models have acrylic shells which once the unit is drained are very easy to clean compared to in-ground concrete walls. As for the water pump and heater, at times these can be more accessible on an in-ground model as the machinery is usually kept separate from the hot tub versus above ground models where the heater and plumbing are self-contained.

Installation Considerations

Installation Considerations
In-ground hot tubs are level with the ground and easily integrate into the surrounding environment and landscaping. Plus, options are more customizable which can make for almost seamless blending into your yard. That said, above ground hot tubs can be built into elaborate decks or patios with attractive, custom-made finishes. The advantage of an above ground model is that it can be moved to other locations in the yard if needed. Some people like this option as they can move it to follow the sun through different seasons of the year.


As mentioned above with the installation considerations, in-ground hot tubs are generally more expensive than above ground models. That being said, if you are planning on enclosing your above ground hot tub with a deck or patio, the additional materials and labor costs required may end up costing almost the same, if not more than an in-ground 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.

Massage Options

Massage Options
Above ground hot tubs have a wider range and more variety of waterjet configurations and hydrotherapy massage options. Above ground hot tubs are equipped with ergonomic seats and the water jets can be customized and configured in a wide variety of positions. In-ground hot tubs on the other hand, typically feature bench style seating arrangements and uniformed placed jets along one or two levels of the tub.


Above ground hot tubs typically outperform in-ground models when it comes to heating. Above ground 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 in-ground models, they may not be as efficient, especially if the hot tub is a custom designed shape. In-ground hot tubs usually take longer to reach their ideal temperature vs. above ground models.

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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