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Thread: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

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    Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    I have a chance to buy this from craiglist. My install for my inground pool is in May. I am trying to decide whether I should go for an portable or this in-ground. I am located right outside St. Louis and I would expect to use this spa all year around. Opinions?
    11K gal, in-ground 15'x33' San Juan Fiberglass, Pentair Whisperflo 3/4 hp pump, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus Filter CCP320, Pentair Inteliclor 40 SWG,

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    polyvue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Sacramento, California USA

    Re: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Carla_IL
    I have a chance to buy this from craiglist. My install for my inground pool is in May. I am trying to decide whether I should go for an portable or this in-ground. I am located right outside St. Louis and I would expect to use this spa all year around. Opinions?
    Hello Carla, welcome to TFP!

    I enjoyed an above-ground "portable" Hot Springs spa (that I purchased with my home) for many years and gave it up only to make space for an in-ground pool. I, too, enjoy getting in a hot tub/spa when the weather is cold and I was able to use my Hot Springs spa year-round. A masonry or fiberglass inground spa is an entirely different experience. First, it's more aesthetically pleasing, prettier to look at, especially if it's well situated in relation to your pool. They're usually more spacious, so you can invite more folks over to share it with you... great at parties. They provide a swim area young children are attracted to while the bigger kids are roughhousing in the pool.

    However, in-ground spas require a lot more energry to heat the water. Lots more. And it's usually not economical to leave it warm all the time -- practically a given with an above ground portable spa, where you can get in anytime you wish, no waiting and the water is hot. Above ground spas are far better insulated than in-ground units, and the circulation system is self-contained so the water doesn't have to be filtered 25 or 40 ft away then heated and piped underground back to where you're sitting.

    An in-ground spa almost always shares a plumbing connection with the pool. So when you want hot water (unless you're also heating the entire pool) you turn a valve or two, turn on your heater and wait.... even large output gas heaters take a while to heat up 500-1000 gallons of water from 45 degrees to 101! The heating requirement can be a real downer and there are few good options -- solar can't even approach the temperature needed to heat an inground spa (except perhaps on a very hot day in July - when most people would be swimming and eating ice cream) and residental heat pumps begin to struggle when outside temperatures fall very far into the 40s, and just won't work at all in 25 or 30 degree weather. I have a electric immersion heater, which is the worst choice economically. So you probably won't use an IG spa as much as you will a well-insulated, always hot, above-ground portable. As much as I love my pool, I loved my old portable spa more, and used it several times a week, at night, in the winter, in the fall....

    I would guess that you could purchase a quality used above-ground portable spa for a little more (or even less) than the price they're asking for that inground "like new" spa. Occasionally, people will give them away (or ask for $100) when they haven't used it in a while or are planning a big landscape project (or installing an in-ground pool)... That might be your best bet. btw Congratulations on your pool build.
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
    View of spiral galaxy in Ursa Major NGC6217 - Hubble Telescope 2009

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    spishex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Hillsborough, NC

    Re: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    Welcome, Carla.

    I agree with everything Polyvue said, and would add that an above ground unit is much easier to access in the event of a problem with the plumbing. Each of those jets you see coming through the fiberglass shell is a potential leak, along with all the plumbing behind them. It's not something that happens all the time, but it does happen, and I'd be even more concerned about it buying it pre-"plumed" off craigslist. Also, a cover for that thing will be pricey.

    There's a nice older Hot Springs model for $900 on your list right now:

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    In the Industry
    SCEADU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    I would go with the portable unit. Far more efficient and as other have said easier to work on.

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    In the Industry

    JoshU's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    New Orleans, LA

    Re: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    As mentioned above a portable spa is the way to go in my opinion. Easier to heat and repair when something goes wrong.
    Josh Ulfers - - 888-725-8766 - AutoPilot Pool Pilot Systems, Parts & Cells - AquaCal Heat Pumps

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    Re: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    I would also recommend a portable spa as well. Everyone had great points about the reasons. We are The Sundance Spas dealer in St. Louis (Mirage Spa) & there are a couple more thoughts about in ground vs portable. We do both so I have some thoughts for you. First, an inground pool is something that you can jump into or walk down the steps. If you sit on the side of a pool it is summer time therefore it is hot in St. Louis. But if you want to use the tub all year long then you don't want to bend down to the ground a put your back end on the cold ground to get into the tub. If you like the built in look then you can always sink it half way in that way you can sit on the edge of the warm tub instead of the cold ground. Remember that you may be carrying somethings like a towel or a drink out to the tub which makes it a little harder to drop down to ground level without dropping something. If you decide on a partially sunk in tub then there are some things that will need to be figured out. We are happy to help you with that.

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    mitch08's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Suffolk County, NY

    Re: Looking for In-Ground Spa vs Portable suggestions

    I prefer built in spill over spas because they look amazing, there is absolutely no issue with water quality, and I don't have any urge to use a spa in the winter when its freezing out anyway...

    With a built in, you never have to deal with chemicals and chemistry. It just mixes with pool water. So assuming your pool is in good shape, your spa will be in good shape.

    It really is not difficult or time consuming to heat IMO. It takes me about 20 minutes to bring it from 80 to 100 with my natural gas pool heater.

    One huge advantage of the portables though is that if you are willing to spend the money, you can get ones that are really sophisticated and really pretty awesome. They usually have more jets, more power, and are more therapeutic. Built ins are pretty simple... At least from what Ive seen, including my own.

    Anyway, to each their own... Either way, if there is a spa, you will find me in it. LOL.
    18x38 Inground Liner (25k gal) Paver surround, multi-speed pump, DE Filter, Raised spill over spa, TF-100

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