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Plunge Pool vs Hot Tub (Complete Swim and Spa Comparison)

Lots of people love swimming and many also love to soak in warm water at the end of a long day. But if you can only have e one, let’s explore a plunge pool vs hot tub:

In terms of differences, a plunge pool is a smaller and deeper pool designed for quick swims and cooling off. It is typically not heated and lacks massage jets. On the other hand, a hot tub is a larger tub-like structure filled with heated water and equipped with jets that provide hydrotherapy and relaxation.

The heating and jet features of a hot tub make it suitable for leisurely soaking and muscle relaxation. When choosing between a plunge pool and a hot tub, consider your preferences for swimming, cooling off, or therapeutic relaxation, as well as the available space and budget.

Both options offer unique benefits and cater to different lifestyles, but understanding their key differences will help you make an informed decision.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the installation costs comparison of plunge pools and hot tubs, as well as their maintenance requirements and expenses. We’ll also discuss personal preferences and lifestyle considerations that may sway your decision in favor of one or the other.

Furthermore, we’ll explore various construction materials options for both types of water features along with their pros & cons. Energy usage comparisons will also be covered by examining heating options and energy efficiency considerations for each option.

Finally, we’ll address space constraint solutions by discussing how plunge pools can benefit small backyards while highlighting hot tub advantages in limited spaces. Additionally, we’ll delve into the health benefits offered by both plunge pools and hot tubs such as stress reduction & relaxation benefits alongside exercise opportunities & injury recovery support.

By the end of this comprehensive guide on “plunge pool vs hot tub”, you’ll have all the information needed to determine which water feature best suits your needs and enhances your home’s value.

Table of Contents:

Plunge Pools vs Hot Tubs: Key Differences

Plunge pools and hot tubs offer unique experiences, but they have key differences.

Plunge pools are small bodies of cold water for quick immersion after heat exposure, while hot tubs maintain temperatures around 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit with spa jets for added relaxation. Consider installation costs, maintenance expenses, and personal lifestyle needs when deciding which option is best for your backyard.

Installation Costs Comparison

When comparing the purchase and installation costs of plunge pools and hot tubs, several factors come into play.

Plunge pools typically require a smaller investment upfront compared to hot tubs. On average, the upfront costs of a plunge pool can range from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the size, material, and additional features.

On the other hand, hot tubs tend to have a wider price range. A basic hot tub can start around $3,000, while more premium models with advanced features can exceed $15,000. The cost is influenced by factors such as the size, construction material, brand reputation, energy efficiency, and additional features like jets, lighting, and sound systems.

Installation costs for both options can vary. Plunge pools may require excavation and construction work, potentially adding to the overall expenses. Hot tubs usually require a level and sturdy foundation, such as a concrete pad or a reinforced deck, which can involve additional costs for preparation and installation.

It’s important to consider ongoing expenses as well.

Hot tubs generally require regular maintenance, water treatments, and electricity for heating and operating the jets. Plunge pools may require less maintenance but can have additional costs for heating and water circulation.

Ultimately, the purchase and installation costs of plunge pools and hot tubs depend on various factors, including size, features, construction requirements, and ongoing expenses. It’s advisable to obtain multiple quotes, consider long-term expenses, and choose the option that best fits your budget and preferences.

Maintenance Requirements and Expenses

  • Plunge pools: Require regular cleaning and chemical treatment similar to a larger traditional swimming pool. However, their smaller size makes them easier and less time-consuming to maintain.
  • Hot tubs: Need consistent upkeep in terms of water chemistry management and filter replacement but typically have lower overall maintenance costs compared to plunge pools.

Personal Preferences and Lifestyle Considerations

Your choice between a plunge pool or hot tub should align with your personal preferences and how you envision using it in your daily routine. For example:

  • If you enjoy hydrotherapy sessions that involve alternating between hot/cold therapy, then a plunge pool might be ideal.
  • If relaxing in warm water with massaging jets after a long day is more your style, then a hot tub would be the better choice.

Verify your choice by consulting reliable sources for evidence. Happy soaking.

Construction Materials for Plunge Pools and Hot Tubs

Choosing the right construction materials for your plunge pool or hot tub is crucial for its longevity and cost-effectiveness. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of each material choice.

Vinyl Liner Pools

Pros: Vinyl liner pools are the cheapest option for installation costs and offer a smooth surface that’s gentle on your skin.

Cons: Unfortunately, vinyl liners wear out quickly and require replacement every 5-10 years. Plus, they’re more prone to punctures from sharp objects or pets’ claws.

Gunite (Concrete) Pools

Pros: Gunite pools provide endless customization options and have a longer lifespan than vinyl liner pools.

Cons: However, they come with a higher initial installation cost and require resealing every decade using epoxy paint.

Fiberglass Pools

Pros: Fiberglass pools are durable and low-maintenance, making them a great choice for those with a bigger budget.

Cons: They have a higher initial cost and limited customization options due to their pre-manufactured shells. Plus, the installation process can be complex and requires experienced professionals.

Ultimately, the choice of construction materials for your plunge pool or hot tub depends on your budget, preferences, and needs. Do your research and consult with professionals to make an informed decision.

Hot Tubs

Most so-called portable hard-sides hot tubs are built on a wooden frame with an acrylic shell. Then for the exterior, the panels are often plastic although some do use real wood siding or panels.

Energy Usage Comparison Between Hot Tubs and Plunge Pools

When evaluating the energy consumption between plunge pools and hot tubs, it is important to factor in the amount of water that needs to be heated and maintained.

Heating up large volumes required by a full-sized pool would consume more resources. However, even smaller-sized ones still need considerable amounts during winter months when temperatures drop significantly below freezing point outside.

But as we’ve already noted, most plunge pools are not heated and therefore only use a tiny amount of electricity for the filter.

The average hot tub will add between $30-50 per month to the electric bill. The variables include the weather, whether a good-quality cover is used, what the water temperature is set to, and how well the hot tub is insulated.

Heating Options for Both Types of Water Features

Various heating options are available for both plunge pools, including gas heaters, electric heaters, heat pumps, and solar-powered systems.

Gas heaters are typically faster at heating the water but may have higher operating costs due to fluctuating fuel prices. Electric heaters can be more energy-efficient but might take longer to heat the pool or spa. Heat pumps utilize ambient air temperature to warm the water efficiently while solar-powered systems harness sunlight as a renewable source of energy.

Hot tubs, by comparison, typically use a small heater element encased in a silver heating tube which is mounted below the control pack. It is powered by electricity. The pump simply pushes water through the heater tube and back out the other side returning it to the hot tub.

Energy Efficiency Considerations

  • Innovative Technology: Many homeowners opt for a plunge pool with an oversized heater that provides desired warmth yet remains energy-efficient through advanced technologies like variable-speed pumps or smart thermostats.
  • Covering Your Pool or Spa: Using a high-quality cover on your plunge pool or hot tub helps retain heat when not in use – reducing overall energy consumption by preventing evaporation and minimizing heat loss.
  • Maintenance: Regularly cleaning filters and maintaining proper chemical balance in your pool or spa ensures optimal performance from your heating system – ultimately saving you money on monthly utility bills.

Considering these factors will help you make an informed decision on which water feature best suits your energy usage preferences and budget constraints.

Space Constraints for Plunge Pools and Hot Tubs

Don’t let a small backyard hold you back from enjoying the benefits of outdoor living.

With limited space, a small plunge pool or hot tub can be the perfect solution to enhance your outdoor area without sacrificing too much room. Both options offer low-impact exercise opportunities and provide respite from summer heat or relief on hot days, making them excellent choices for homeowners with less outdoor space.

Plunge Pool Benefits in Small Backyards

A plunge pool is an ideal option for homeowners who want the benefits of a swimming pool but have limited backyard space. Plunge pools are typically smaller than traditional pools, which means they require less square footage and can fit into tight spaces.

They also use fewer chemicals and consume less water due to their size, resulting in lower maintenance costs. Additionally, plunge pools can be customized to match your aesthetic preferences and blend seamlessly into your existing landscape design.

Hot Tub Advantages in Limited Spaces

Hot tubs, on the other hand, are another great option for those looking to maximize relaxation within a confined area.

Hot tubs come in various sizes and shapes that can easily accommodate any backyard layout while still providing ample seating capacity for friends and family members alike.

Furthermore, modern hot tub models often include energy-efficient features like insulated covers or adjustable temperature settings – ensuring you enjoy soothing hydrotherapy sessions without worrying about excessive utility bills.

Health Benefits of Plunge Pools and Hot Tubs

Looking to upgrade your backyard oasis?

Consider adding a plunge pool or hot tub to not only increase your home’s value but also improve your health. Both options offer unique therapeutic benefits that can help you relax, recover from injuries, and even get some exercise.

Stress Reduction & Relaxation Benefits

Hot tubs are like a warm hug for your muscles, providing a soothing massage experience that can reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. Meanwhile, plunge pools offer a refreshing jolt to your system, stimulating blood flow and releasing adrenaline for a mood-boosting effect.

Exercise Opportunities & Injury Recovery Support

  • Gentle Exercise: Whether you prefer the warm water of a hot tub or the invigorating chill of a plunge pool, both options offer low-impact exercise opportunities that are easy on your joints.
  • Injury Recovery: The buoyancy of the water makes it an ideal environment for injury recovery exercises, and the heat from hot tubs can aid in muscle relaxation and flexibility. Meanwhile, cold therapy from plunge pools can help reduce swelling and inflammation after injuries or surgeries.
  • Muscle Soreness Relief: Alternating between hot and cold therapies has been shown to be effective at relieving muscle soreness after intense physical activity (source). So why not have the best of both worlds with a plunge pool and hot tub combo?

Ultimately, the decision between a plunge pool and a hot tub comes down to your personal preferences and needs. Regardless of your choice, you can be certain that the investment will benefit both your physical and mental health.

But in many ways, it can be easier to keep a hot tub clean compared to a pool.


Can a plunge pool be used as a hot tub?

A plunge pool can be heated and used similarly to a hot tub, but it won’t have the same swim jets for hydrotherapy. However, some plunge pools come with built-in spa features like seating and jets for added relaxation. Learn more about the differences between plunge pools and hot tubs here.

But if you want the best of both worlds, a better option is a swim spa which is an all-in-one unit with both a small pool area that is not heated in addition to a separate hot tub area that is heated.

Is it better to get a hot tub or pool?

The choice between a hot tub or pool depends on your personal preferences, space constraints, and budget.

Hot tubs are ideal for relaxation and hydrotherapy while pools offer more room for exercise. Consider factors such as installation costs, maintenance requirements, and energy usage before making your decision.

But also think about how often kids will be present. Young children, while of course needing supervision, are likely to use a regular pool more than a hot tub.

Is it a good idea to have a plunge pool?

Plunge pools are an excellent option if you want the benefits of both swimming pools and spas in limited spaces. They provide opportunities for low-impact exercise, injury recovery support, stress reduction, and relaxation. Plunge pools also require less water than traditional swimming pools.

Are plunge pools high maintenance?

Plunge pools generally require less maintenance compared to larger swimming pools due to their smaller size. However, they still need regular cleaning, chemical balancing, and filter maintenance. Proper care will ensure the longevity of your plunge pool and maintain water quality for safe use. Get some tips on maintaining your plunge pool here.


Construction materials and energy usage can also impact your choice, but both options offer health benefits like stress reduction and exercise opportunities.

For a luxurious addition to your home or backyard, weigh the pros and cons of a plunge pool vs hot tub to make an informed decision based on your needs and lifestyle.

Jeff Campbell