Are Above Ground Hot Tubs Trashy? (It Depends….)

Above ground hot tubs are very much like above ground swimming pools.

They are installed to rest on top of the ground.

They are the direct opposite of the in ground type of tubs that are installed with their rims flush with the ground, just like in ground pools.

So, Are Above Ground Hot Tubs Trashy?

Well, unlike above ground pools that you would easily rule out because of damning drawbacks like their susceptibility to damages, tendency to ruin the layout of your backyard, and their zero impact on the resale value of your home, above ground tubs occupy a grey in the midst of all factors you can consider when choosing a tub. Whether they are trashy or not depends wholly on your needs.

For example, if you are looking for a tub that would be perfect for your pets and kids, the above ground option would be the best option for you.

However, if you are looking for one would give you an easy time when entering and exiting, the in ground option would probably be great for you instead.

Five Reasons Why Above Ground Hot Tubs Aren’t Trashy

Here are why above ground tubs are not trashy:

  • They are safe for pets and kids
  • They are affordable
  • They are cheap and fast to install
  • A variety of options to choose from
  • They are mobile and convenient

Note that above ground tubs are generally referred to as hot tubs because of the hydrotherapy and temperature regulation features that come with them.

Throughout this section, we will be using these two terms interchangeably.

1. Affordability

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a tub but still want to get most of the benefits of owning one, it only makes sense that you opt for the above ground option.

This type of tub is the best for anyone shopping for a tub on a budget. The overall cost of acquiring and installing them is lower compared to in ground tubs.

Better yet, there are specific brands that deal almost exclusively in the cheapest deals you could choose.

They include

  • Sharkline
  • Celebration and
  • Doughboy.

According to Home Advisor, the national average cost of installing an above ground tub in the United States is $333.

Most homeowners spend between $150 and $530 on this type of tub.

However, the cost of installation is hard to determine owing to the difference in cost of labor, and transportation costs between states but it is approximated to be somewhere between $155 and $512.


How much in electricity costs would you incur per month?

Would you be baffled to hear that the most efficient and well-engineered hot tub can cost between $25 and $40 monthly to run?

Even the most inefficient options you could get (why buy such a tub anyway) seldom costs beyond $50 per month in energy bills.

If you have glanced at adverts from top tub makers, you may have noticed that most of them promote $1 daily usage, with $50 per month being the highest any of them could quote.

The primary cost culprit in any hot tub is usually the heater, which will take about 1,500-W or 6,000-W depending on whether you chose the 120-V heater or the 240-V alternative. The pump alone may draw about 1,500-W.


Even during the idle time, the heater will keep drawing power to keep the water at an optimum temperature.

When soaking yourself and when the water is constantly filling, however, the heater will run frequently alongside the pump.

In rough estimations, a hot tub equipped with a 120-V heater will consume 3,000-W.

The wattage seldom goes beyond 7,000-W even if you use a larger heater.

If your heater came with a wattage of 7,000-W, it will translate to 7.5 KW/h (Kilowatt-hours) while the small heater would be 3.0 KW/h.

Now multiply your tub’s wattage by the KW/h rate on your home’s electric bill – let us say 12 cents – to find the cost of using the tub for one hour: you’ll end up with 36 cents if you are using a 120-V heater and 90 cents if you have a 240-V heater.

The above was an estimate. The cost of running even the most efficient hot tub in your home can depend on an array of factors, most of which are within your control. They include:

  • The size of the tub – the bigger the tub the more electricity you need to heat a large amount of water
  • Wind speeds and outdoor temperature – it takes longer to heat water in the middle of the winter than, say, the spring or autumn. Also, high wind speed cools the water as fast as it heats
  • The tub’s thermostat settings
  • The quality of the insulation on the tub
  • Whether you have a cover or not, and the quality of the cover of you have any
  • Whether you installed a thermal blanket or any other additional insulation material

2. A Variety of Options

Hot tubs come in a range of varieties to suit diverse user needs.

Standard Above Ground tubs

This is the most common type of hot tub.

  • Most of them require a spa panel installation and hardwiring to operate perfectly.
  • They are capable of maintaining heat to a single predetermined temperature point.
  • It is typical for this sort of tubs to come with ergonomic contours and water jets to boost the therapeutic and comfort value.

A buyer who is not too particular about what they want would easily choose this class of tubs because they offer pretty everything an average person wants in a hot tub.

Plug & play above ground tubs

This type of hot tubs come with everything they require to run perfectly – no need for add-ons.

Hence, they are typically self-contained.

The Plug n’ Play feature makes them incredibly easy to use because all you need to do is move them close to the power outlet, plug in, and start soaking.

The best part about them is that you can install them virtually anywhere – on the deck, patio, or any other solid surface you can find.

They are highly portable and are usually coated with a plastic exterior or some acrylic or wood.

Inflatable above ground tubs

They are very much like the Plug n’ Play type except that they can be rolled into smaller units that can be carried much more easily.

  • Most of them are made from inflatable vinyl or latex.
  • They are the easiest to install.
  • To assist with inflation and deflation as well as fast filling, they are accompanied with pumps and filters.

The major drawback of this type of above ground tubs is that they come with fewer and less powerful jets compared to other types of hot tubs.

If you compare them to standard options, however, they come out less expensive – you can acquire one as lowly as $150.

If you consider the fact that they can sit on the grass anywhere in your backyard, you are more likely to buy one of them for your kids and pets instead of opting for the traditional type.

Also, they are the best option for short-term use although they can last as long as five years or more.

Swim spa options

They are the largest hot tubs you could find out there. If you are inclined to lounging and swimming away from the regular swimming pool, they are the best option you can ever choose.

They tend to give the user more control over every minor aspect of their workings including temperature regulation in multiple sections.

Because they are dual function and large in size, they are the most expensive type of tubs you could acquire.

It is also worth mentioning that you can choose between portable and fixed options, but the prices won’t vary much.

3. Easy Installation Process and Maintenance

The process of installing an above ground tub takes a maximum of one day.

And that involves the most advanced types of hot tubs like the Swim Spa options.

Smaller and less intricate options can take minutes to install. In ground tubs would require you to dig the ground for a day, prepare it for another day or so, and install them after which you will wait for several days for everything to dry up.

The inflatable types, which are the simplest, are also the easiest to install.

You might want to prepare the ground before installing a hot tub. It mainly involves leveling the ground rather than digging holes.

The cost of maintaining these pools is low as well because they are potable. And because they are installed on top of the ground rather than in the ground, few debris and animals get to fall inside.

When it comes to the true cost of maintaining a hot tub, it can be a paltry $20 per month.

This money is mainly spent on water care chemicals. Unless you have a full time worker dedicated to caring for the tub (which would be unnecessary under any circumstance) the cost of running a hot tub, in the long run, would be within your means.

However, the water system you may already have in place may have a considerable influence on the tub’s yearly running cost.

If you think your water system is inefficient, it would be prudent to upgrade it first at a high cost and enjoy reduced costs thereafter.

4. Somehow safe

Because above ground rubs are installed to stand on the ground, they are safer compared to the in ground alternatives.

They are already a few feet off the ground, unlike in ground tubs which are installed flush on the ground.

This means a wandering pet or kid won’t fall inside.

Therefore, if you have a few pets and kids at home, or you don’t want to wake up in the mornings and find dead animals floating dead in your tub, it would be prudent to choose an above ground tub.

It is worth mentioning that for you to keep any in ground tub safe, you need to erect a fence, about 48” tall, around it.

This fence can add to the cost of installation and bloat your budget if you didn’t plan for it. So, you would rather go for the hot tub because it removes the need for fences.

5. Mobile and convenient

Convenience and portability are the two biggest benefits that come with hot tubs. Every hot tub in the market today supports some degree of portability.

The inflatable versions can be easily assembled in minutes, used, disassembled in minutes again, and moved to another location of your choosing. Even the l larger and more complicated types will permit up to a day for disassembling.

If you are always on move, or you are anticipating to change homes in the near future, above ground tubs would be the best option.

Another impressive thing about some types of hot tubs is that you can adjust the depth and size to fit your dynamic needs.

  • The best size of an oval or circular hot tub is a diameter somewhere between 10” and 33”.
  • The best rectangular options for an average family measure 12”, 25”, 18”, 24”, 27” up to 30”.
  • The depth should be between 48” and 52”.

Why Might Above Ground Tubs Could Be A Trashy Choice for You?

Above, we highlighted the good side of hot tubs.

However, some buyers may not buy into it. It is for a fact that hot tubs are not for everyone.

Here are the reasons why this type of tub could be trashy for you:

  • They are aesthetically wanting
  • They are more prone to wear and tear
  • They have a lower lifespan

1. Aesthetically Unpleasant

The first and obvious drawback of above ground hot tubs comes from how they are built – they are built to stand on the ground rather than below it as it’s the case with the in ground option.

Unless you don’t care about the appearance of your outdoor space, which is less likely, an above ground tub cannot be an option.

The worst part is that this type of tubs is that they never blend with the surrounding environment no matter how hard you try.

Since you can’t obscure such a structure from the view, you will have to accept it as a design problem.

Even more concerning are the large resin and steel frames that are often used to support.

These structures can easily turn an above ground tub into an eyesore than if it were to stand unsupported.

Yes, you can opt for supporting frames with some cute patterns and colors on them and even buy a pool of a specific shape.

But what they bring aesthetically seldom matches that which the in ground version would’ve provided.

2. They Are More Prone to Wear and Tear

Since they stand above the ground, they are highly susceptible to nature-induced wear and tear.

  • The bodywork is more prone to oxidation.
  • The decorations may peel off as fast as you add them if you don’t take good care of the tub.
  • Additional insulations you may add on the walls may fall off often and require frequent replacement.

Aside from natured-induced damages, the positioning of above ground pools makes them susceptible to pests, pets, and children who would add smudges and scratch the walls when you are not around.

The problem is not the damages themselves but the number of times you’ll find yourself correcting them as well as the cost and complex nature of some damages.

3. Can Be Difficult to Use

The fact that this type of tubs is installed on the ground requires the user to climb inside.

This can be a serious challenge for the disabled or elderly.

Even with a tiny ladder or stairs leading into it, some people may not have a nice time having to climb in and descend from it with slippery hands and water splashed all over the place.

The user stands a considerable chance of falling over and sustaining some injuries. For this reason, this type of tub is unsuitable for people with mobility issues or the elderly or disabled.

4. Shorter Lifespan

Because these tubs tend to be mostly portable, the process of assembling and disassembling is one of the factors that contribute to their reduced lifespan.

The more you use them this way, the more likely you need replacement in the near future. In ground tubs outlive them by over 10 years.

The short lifespan can be boosted by fastidious care, which can be exhausting to some homeowners.

You will also need to revamp the coating and the exterior insulations once after a short time and even add a brand-new Gelcoat finish once in every 2 years or less.


Whether above ground tubs suck or not depends on the user’s needs.

They are the most affordable and easy to install tubs out there. They are also safe because they are raised above the ground.

However, they are unattractive to the eye compared to the in ground options.

However, you might overlook the appearance factor when you realize that their lifespan is far shorter than that of in ground options because they are not permanent fixtures.

A typical in ground hot tub lasts about 10 years longer than an above ground option of comparable size if both are subjected to the same level of care and maintenance.