Hot tubs, swimming pools and swim spas can all make great additions to your backyard…
Plunge Pool vs Hot Tub – 11 Key Differences to Help You Choose
Confused between Plunge Pool and Hot Tub? Uncover the pros and cons of both before investing your money by learning 11 key differences today.
Are you looking for a way to enjoy the water in your backyard without investing in a full-sized swimming pool? Do you want to relax, cool off, and soothe your muscles after a long day? If so, you might be interested in learning more about plunge pools and hot tubs. These are two popular options for homeowners who want to create their own personal oasis without breaking the bank or taking up too much space. But what are the differences between these two? And which one is right for you?
In this blog post, we will compare and contrast 11 different aspects, such as depth, size, temperature, health benefits, costs, maintenance, installation, location, safety features, versatility, and environmental impact. By the end of this post, you will have a better idea of what each option can offer you and how to choose the best one for your needs.
Before we dive into the details, let’s start with some basic definitions.
What is a Plunge Pool?
A plunge pool is a compact alternative (or companion) to a swimming pool. It looks like a small shallow pool and is usually larger than a hot tub. Typically, a plunge pool will be in-ground (although above-ground/raised models are available). People buy them mainly for relaxation, but they can also be used for exercise if it has a swim jet system installed.
How is a Hot Tub Different?
A hot tub is a large tub or small pool filled with heated water that usually has jets for massage purposes. It can be installed indoors or outdoors and can be portable or permanent. A hot tub is designed for soaking and hydrotherapy, but you can also use it for socializing or entertainment. A hot tub is not the same as a plunge pool because it has unique features, such as a heating system, jets, and a stronger filtration system. They are so popular that 27% of people rate them as their first or second choice for luxury home purchases. Check out this article for more hot tub facts.
Plunge Pool vs Hot Tub – 11 Differences
Now that we have established what plunge pools and hot tubs are in general terms, let’s look at how they differ on various aspects.
Depth & Size
One of the main differences between plunge pools and hot tubs is their depth and size. Plunge pools are deeper than hot tubs because they create a larger body of water for movement and wading.
- The average depth of a plunge pool ranges from 1.2m to 1.8m (4ft to 6ft), while the average hot tub dimensions range from 0.76m to 1m (2.5ft to 3.5ft).
- Plunge pools are also larger than hot tubs because they accommodate more people at once.
- The average size of a plunge pool ranges from 4m x 2m (13ft x 6ft) to 7m x 4m (23ft x 13ft), while the average size of a hot tub ranges from 1.8m x 1.8m (6ft x 6ft) to 2.4m x 2.4m (8ft x 8ft).
Another major difference between plunge pools and hot tubs is their water temperature. Plunge pools have cooler water than hot tubs because they are not heated by an external source. They rely on natural factors such as sunlight, shade, wind, and ambient temperature to determine their water temperature.
- The average water temperature of a plunge pool ranges from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), while the average water temperature of a hot tub ranges from 37°C to 40°C (99°F to 104°F).
- Plunge pools have lower water temperatures than hot tubs because they are meant for cooling off rather than warming up.
Both plunge pools and hot tubs have some health benefits, but they differ in their effects on the body. Plunge pools have cooler water than hot tubs, which can stimulate blood circulation, reduce stress, provide gentle exercise, and aid injury recovery. They can also boost the immune system and increase the antioxidant capacity of the body by exposing it to cold stress. However, they are not suitable for people with heart conditions or high blood pressure, as they can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and a rapid increase in heart rate.
Hot tubs have warmer water, and it is common knowledge that this can relax muscles, ease pain, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep quality. Hot tubs can also provide hydrotherapy by using jets to massage specific areas of the body. However, hot tubs are not recommended for people with infections or skin conditions, as they can promote bacterial growth and worsen symptoms. Hot tubs are also not advisable for pregnant women or people with diabetes, as they can raise body temperature and affect blood sugar levels.
Monthly Operating Costs
Another important difference between a fibreglass plunge pools and a hot tub is their monthly operating costs. Pools have lower operating costs than hot tubs because they do not require heating or filtration systems. They only need occasional cleaning and chlorination to maintain water quality.
- The average monthly operating cost of a plunge pool ranges from $10 to $30, while the average monthly operating cost of a hot tub ranges from $50 to $100.
- Hot tub running costs can be higher than plunge pools because they need constant heating and filtration to keep the water warm and clean. Even larger swimming pools can increase costs exponentially.
Maintenance is another factor that differs between plunge pools and hot tubs. Plunge pools require less maintenance than hot tubs because they have simpler features and fewer components that can break down or malfunction. They only need periodic cleaning, chlorination, and pH testing to keep the water clear and safe. The average maintenance time for a plunge pool is about 15 minutes per week.
Hot tubs require more maintenance than plunge pools because they have more complex features and components that need regular care and attention. They need frequent cleaning, sanitizing, filtering, and draining to prevent algae, bacteria, and scale buildup. The average maintenance time for a hot tub is about 30 minutes per week.
For more information about maintenance, read our blog called “How Long Does a Hot Tub Last?”
Cost is another significant difference between plunge pools and hot tubs. Plunge pools are more expensive than hot tubs because they involve more construction work and materials. They also take up more space and may require landscaping or decking to enhance their appearance.
- The average cost of a plunge pool ranges from $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the size, shape, depth, and design of the pool, while the average cost of a hot tub ranges from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the size, shape, features, and quality of the tub.
- Hot tubs are cheaper than plunge pools because they are easier to install and transport. They also take up less space and can fit in most backyards or patios without much modification.
- Hot tub costs can be lowered if you can source a high quality used hot tub. This can be tricky, though, so it’s a good idea to talk to a dealer before scanning Craigslist.
Installation is another aspect that varies between plunge pools and hot tubs. Plunge pools require more installation work than hot tubs because they need excavation and plumbing. They also need to be ordered with the desired dimensions, type of tiles, and seat placement. The installation time for a plunge pool can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project, but it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Hot tubs require less installation work than plunge pools because they are pre-fabricated and portable. They only need a level surface and an electrical outlet to operate. The installation time for a hot tub is usually much shorter than for a plunge pool, as it can take as little as a few hours to set up.
One of the factors to consider when choosing between a plunge pool and a hot tub is where you want to put it in your backyard. Both options have different space requirements and installation methods.
Plunge pools are typically larger than hot tubs, ranging from 4×4 feet to 12×12 feet. They also need a solid foundation and plumbing connections, which may require excavation and permits. An installer can install plunge pools above ground or inground, depending on your preference and budget.
Hot tubs are smaller than plunge pools, usually measuring around 6×6 feet or 7×7 feet. They are easier to install than plunge pools, as they only need a level surface and an electrical outlet. Hot tubs can be placed on a deck, patio, or lawn, as long as they have enough clearance and ventilation.
Another factor when choosing between a plunge pool and a hot tub is how safe they are for you and your family. Both options have some potential risks and benefits for your health and well-being.
Plunge pools are filled with cold water, which can have a positive effect on your circulation, inflammation, metabolism, and immune system. However, cold water can also cause hypothermia if you stay in too long or have certain medical conditions. Plunge pools also pose a drowning hazard for children and pets if they are not supervised or fenced off.
Hot tubs are filled with hot water, which can have a relaxing effect on your muscles, joints, stress levels, and sleep quality. However, hot water can also cause dehydration, heat stroke, infections, or burns if you stay in too long, have certain medical conditions, or do not maintain proper hygiene and water quality. Hot tubs also pose a drowning hazard for children and pets if they are not supervised or covered with a lid when not in use.
Another thing to consider when choosing between a plunge pool and a hot tub is how versatile they are for your lifestyle and preferences. Both options offer different ways of enjoying them throughout the year.
Plunge pools are more suitable for cooling down during the summer months or after a workout session. They can also be used for swimming laps, doing water exercises, or playing games with friends or family if they are large enough. Plunge pools can be heated during the winter months, but this may increase their energy consumption and maintenance costs significantly.
Hot tubs are more suitable for warming up during the winter months or after a long day at work. They can also be used for soaking, massaging, meditating, or socializing with friends or family if they have enough seats and jets. Hot tubs can be cooled down during the summer months, but this may reduce their therapeutic benefits and comfort level significantly.
A fourth factor to consider when choosing between a plunge pool and a hot tub is how environmentally friendly they are for your backyard and the planet. Both options have different impacts on your water usage, energy consumption, and chemical usage.
Plunge pools use more water than hot tubs because they have larger volumes and higher evaporation rates due to their lower temperatures and exposure to sunlight. Plunge pools also use more energy than hot tubs because they need pumps and filters to circulate and clean the water regularly. Plunge pools use less chemicals than hot tubs because they have lower temperatures and fewer contaminants due to their lower usage frequency and occupancy rate.
Hot tubs use less water than plunge pools because they have smaller volumes and lower evaporation rates due to their higher temperatures and coverings. Hot tubs also use less energy than plunge pools because they need heaters and blowers to maintain and increase the water temperature occasionally. Hot tubs use more chemicals than plunge pools because they have higher temperatures and more contaminants due to their higher usage frequency and occupancy rate.
Energy use is strongly connected to how often and how long you use a hot tub for each week/month. While it is in active use, a hot tub will use more energy than a plunge pool. But a plunge pool may operate more often “in the background,” leading to overall higher energy use.
Plunge pools and hot tubs are both great options for enhancing your backyard and your health, but they have different advantages and disadvantages. Plunge pools are more suitable for people who want a larger water feature that can provide cold therapy, gentle exercise, and injury recovery. However, plunge pools are more expensive, require more space, and need more installation work than hot tubs. Hot tubs are more suitable for people who want a smaller water feature that can provide warm therapy, muscle relaxation, and pain relief. However, hot tubs have higher operating costs, require more maintenance, and may pose some health risks than plunge pools.
Ultimately, the choice between a plunge pool and a hot tub depends on your personal preferences, budget, space, and lifestyle. If you want help making your choice, call our friendly team at Epic Hot Tubs for personalized advice. Epic Hot Tubs is the premier hot tub dealer in Raleigh & Durham, NC.
If you want to start with more reading, check out our guide to the best hot tub brands.
Manny has been in the Pool & Spa industry for over 15 years and is considered a pool, swim spa, & hot tub expert. He has been a Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO) since 2009 and worked 15 years in aquatic training and development for the largest pool chemical and customer care company. He also has been an outside consultant for the Pool and Spa industry in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles since 2018. In the past few years Manny has become Director of Operations for Epic Hot Tubs with a priority of providing customers with the most reliable information and best service possible.