Spas come in a variety of forms, as seen in our extensive range of Hot Spring spa pools and Endless Pools swim spas. This variety grants you plenty of choice when shopping for a spa pool: the size, shape, colour and features of the machine are up to you. But one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is how the spa will be installed on your property.
There are three main installation options: above-ground, in-ground and built-in.
A portable spa pool, like those we make at Hot Spring, can be installed either above-ground or built-in. Above-ground is by far the most popular, because it is simpler, faster and cheaper than both in-ground and built-in.
But is an above-ground spa pool the right choice for you and your home? In this article we’ll take a closer look at the ins and outs of above-ground installation, and how it compares to in-ground and built-in, to help you make the right decision for your situation.
What is an above-ground spa pool?
As the name suggests, above-ground installation is when a spa pool is installed on top of a suitable surface. It could be placed on pavers, grass, decking, a balcony or anything else that is level and capable of taking the weight. Above-ground spa pools are generally pre-built, portable, self-contained models, like those in the Hot Spring and Endless Pools range.
This form of installation is incredibly simple. You put your spa pool in place, fill it up with water and connect it to the necessary power (a job made even easier if you can use a standard power outlet, like with Hot Spring’s Plug’n’Play technology).
Why should I choose an above-ground spa pool?
Why should you choose an above-ground spa pool for your home? These machines offer a number of advantages, including:
The easiest, fastest and cheapest way to install a spa pool on your property is by placing it above-ground. It’s a job that can take just a few hours, most of which is spent filling the machine with water. After you take delivery of your portable Hot Spring spa pool, you simply place it wherever you want (as long as it’s on an appropriate surface), fill it with water, connect it to power and turn it on! Alternatively you can avoid lifting so much as a finger and leave it to our professional (and ultra efficient) installation team.
While above-ground spa pools can be permanent features of your backyard, they can also be taken with you if you decide to move house – just empty and unplug the spa and you’re ready to go! This also opens up spa pool ownership to renters – you can invest in a machine, safe in the knowledge that you can load it into a moving truck when your lease ends.
The nature of in-ground spas means that most are custom-made. Above-ground machines, meanwhile, are mass-produced, which enables brands like Hot Spring to invest in the development of increasingly innovative technologies that help us to deliver soaking and ownership experiences that bespoke in-ground spa pools simply can’t match.
Ability to upgrade
The investment that Hot Spring makes in research and development means that our range of spa pools is constantly evolving. Many of our customers like to stay at the leading edge of soaking experiences, and choose to regularly upgrade their spa pools, which is possible because above-ground spa pools are simple to replace. In-ground spa pools, meanwhile, don’t enjoy the same levels of innovation, and are difficult and costly to remove and reinstall.
Automated water care, moving jets, touchscreen controls, backlit waterfalls, underwater lighting, ultra-efficient insulation; portable spa pools like the Hot Spring Highlife collection pack an incredible amount of features into their compact bodies, allowing them to comfortably outperform most in-ground models.
Economies of scale mean that mass-produced portable spa pools can offer more luxury and functionality for less. They are also far cheaper to install and can be sold on the secondhand market or traded in when the time comes to upgrade.
Portable spa pools are designed to make deep cleaning, maintenance and parts replacement simple. The inside of the machine is usually easy to access, and mass-produced parts are easy to come by (at Hot Spring we guarantee the supply of spare parts for 20 years.) The same often can’t be said for in-ground spa pools.
In-ground spa pools
Like above-ground spa pools, in-ground spas are exactly what they say on the packet. These machines are installed into an excavated area of your backyard, with the lip of the spa usually sitting at ground level. Given that two installations are rarely the same, these machines are generally custom-made.
Compared to above-ground spa pools, in-ground machines are rather time-consuming, complex and costly to install. Once you’ve got through the council red tape, you’ll need to excavate, install and ensure safety, which often means erecting a fence. In-ground spa pools also tend to be less affordable, functional and reliable and more difficult to maintain.
Given the advantages offered by portable above-ground spa pools, why would anyone choose an in-ground machine? A couple of common reasons include:
Sure, there are dozens of Hot Spring models to choose from, each of which comes in a wealth of colour combinations, but your options aren’t infinite. The bespoke nature of in-ground spa pools means you can create a broader range of looks (though you’ll pay more for the pleasure).
With the edge of the spa sitting at ground level, in-ground spa pools offer easy access to soakers. You’ll need to step up and over the side of an above-ground spa pool to gain access, though adding a set of steps and a handrail can make this easy, even for those with limited mobility.
Built-in spa pools
Built-in spa pools sit somewhere between above-ground and in-ground. You begin by investing in a portable, self-contained spa pool, like a Hot Spring. You then build a deck, a gazebo or other structure around it. In this way you’ll combine many of the perks of an above-ground pool (features, innovation, affordability) with the perks of an in-ground pool (aesthetics, accessibility).
Built-in spa pools do have their drawbacks though, namely installation, upgradability and portability. Building a custom deck around your spa pool can be a complex and costly undertaking, and it makes it hard to upgrade your spa pool or take it with you when you move.
Above-ground, in-ground or built-in?
Armed with the pros and cons, the choice of an above-ground, in-ground or built-in spa pool is entirely yours. But when you look at most of the important metrics, like cost, installation, maintenance and soaking experience, it’s no surprise that above-ground spa pools are the most popular option in New Zealand.