Above or in ground hot tub?

smheese

New member
Oct 7, 2020
3
Ashburn, VA
Having a hard time deciding if we want our hot tub (which is next to our sun shelf) to be elevated 18 inches and hardscaped with stone on the outside or dropped into the ground to be more sleek and level with the pool and sun shelf. Any advice on pros and cons of either design? Design attached.
 

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cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
5,213
Southern OK
Save your money and buy a stand alone hot tub that you will be able to use all winter long while your pool is closed and if you want to use it during the summer you can do that also... :)

Really, the built in are rough on your skin, do not have all the gadgets and you will not be anywhere close to the 100 nozzles or more in a stand alone and will cost some bucks to heat up for an hour of use... They are beautiful to look at but just not practical...

with that said most like them raised as you can have a waterfall into the pool if you want :)
 

Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
779
Gilbert, AZ
Pool Size
17000
Chlorine
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SWG Type
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I know some prefer the standalone, but I do not. I had never been in a standalone until last year and wasn’t a fan. I didn’t like that I couldn’t sit next to my husband and had to sit in the special seat. I also kept floating up because I’m short and it wasn’t made for short people. It didn’t do anything for me. I’ve never had a problem with the built in ones except I didn’t like the square one I was in. But as for raised vs flat, it only matters to your preference I think. We’re still in the design phase and thought that we were getting a flat one but then one day while I was looking at the plan I realized it was raised. My husband wanted raised to be able to jump off of it. I didn’t have a huge preference so let him keep that des 😉. When I thought it was flat, I had a step put in to make getting in easier, but when I realized it was raised I took it out. Now we can sit on the side and swing our legs around to get in, which I think is easier.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
1,300
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Okay.. So my tub is a standalone. So I am biased. However-- There are two use cases for a hot tub, and depending on what those are, then your decision will be different..

Where standalone is better: When you are using the tub for therapeutic uses or just relaxing and can take turns with the other people in family and/or guests using it. Having it standalone is MUCH better in the winter (even here in Tucson) as it doesn't take 45 minutes to heat up and use $25 worth of natural gas in the process. Even new, it's less than 1/2 the cost of built-in. Even with electric heat, a decent tub is MUCH more energy efficient, and again is much more useable in the winter, when you really want to use one. They tend to hold less people than the manufacturers state and you do have two sets of water chemistry that often act a lot differently to deal with for TFP.

Where built in is better: When done for aesthetics, or for someone who entertains a lot and expects to have a big number of people in the tub often. I have not been in one that is comfortable for relaxing or therapeutic uses, and I have been in many. They tend to be energy hogs, and they also aerate the water a lot, which can be good or bad depending on the circumstances. There is more equipment to buy and use the built in and because of that it's +$15K-25K to add one to a pool build. There is no good way to insulate the tub, so it's inefficient in that regard as well. Again, there is going to be much fewer features and nozzles as stated above...

If I had it to do all over again, I'd still do the standalone... maybe one size bigger, with a few more bells and whistles... but I don't regret that I didn't build in the spa at all.
 
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spd500

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2020
564
Houston, TX
Ours is a built in and is raised 12". We have used it at least 2 or 3 times a week since it was completed and love it. I have never really liked the designs of the free standing hot tubs for several different reasons. We are in Houston and will not close the pool in the winter time, so that is not a consideration for us at all. Also, we went with the 400K BTU heater instead of the 250K, so it usually only takes a few minutes to get the tub heated and ready to go.
 
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MiguelACA

Silver Supporter
May 12, 2020
150
Houston
Ours is a built in and is raised 12". We have used it at least 2 or 3 times a week since it was completed and love it. I have never really liked the designs of the free standing hot tubs for several different reasons. We are in Houston and will not close the pool in the winter time, so that is not a consideration for us at all. Also, we went with the 400K BTU heater instead of the 250K, so it usually only takes a few minutes to get the tub heated and ready to go.

threadjacking a bit here, how many gallons is your hot tub? we went with a heat/chill heat pump, and while it works and does what it needs to, I know wish we had a gas heater to really heat up the pool fast. I think next year I'll be adding a gas heater into the mix as well! Our pool is small, 5k gallons. It's been amazing having the whole thing at 96-100 degrees, but the heat pump takes a while to get there if its particularly cool outside...
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
1,300
Corona de Tucson, AZ
We don't "close" the pool in the wintertime, but it's not used from about the second week in November to the middle of March. The water temp right now is 52F and I am about to take bets on when the SWCG shuts off for the season on the pool. Any time now.. Bleach hasn't been in ample supply... even water softener salt has has a run on it locally....again... So I am hoping it goes as long as possible.

But having said that I can afford to run the detached tub coasting at 98F or so (with the cover on) and then heat it up to 103F or more in 30 minutes or less when I use it. Which should be more than I have been lately but it want from really hot to really cold this year... so maybe tonight if the winds die down... It's freezing here. I'd die if I had to move back to the upper Midwest.
 

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