A. People buy Spas and Hot Tubs for many reasons (recreation, hydro-therapy, fitness, because their neighbor has one) you should have a good idea of what are your needs are before you go looking. The amount of space you have and the placement of the Spa or Hot Tub indoors or outdoors will also help determine the spa for you.
Portable spas require no external plumbing, excavation or electrical work. They plug directly (or can be easily adapted) into a standard 110 volt outlet. Most portables can be easily carried by a few people, so you can bring them just about anywhere fill it up and plug it in. Portable hot tubs are generally less expensive, but don’t have a lot of power, therefore they are not very therapeutic.
Self-contained spas are the most common in the marketplace. They require no plumbing. Generally self-contained spas run on 220 volt electric and need some electrical hook-up. They are available in many sizes shapes and colors. Self-contained spas are designed for many different uses, some are geared more toward recreational use, others are geared more toward hydro-therapy, and with the recent trend of swim-spas even swimming. Most self-contained spas are designed to be used outdoors, but there are some models that can fit through existing doorways. Due to the large variety of self-contained spas they range in price greatly depending upon size, quality and intended use.
In-ground spas can be set in an outside deck, sunk into a cement floor or can be free standing with a wood or tile deck built around it. In-ground spas do require some plumbing, electrical and sometimes gas work before you have the finished product. However, your dealer can arrange all these services for you as well as work with your own private contractors in the event you are also having a room built to enclose your spa. Generally an in-ground spa is initially more costly than the same model in a self-contained unit, but have greater customizing alternatives to match your individual needs.